Ma­rine Corps boot camp tests LFO ath­letes

Walker County Messenger - - Sports - By Scott Herpst

For high school ath­letes in the sum­mer months, prac­tice usu­ally means go­ing over pass plays, work­ing on bunts, shoot­ing free throws, or even mak­ing tum­bling runs.

It usu­ally doesn’t in­volve do­ing sprints with heavy back­packs, timed pull-ups, pushups and sit-ups, flip­ping tires or run­ning while hold­ing on to a pair of ket­tle bells, and it al­most never means do­ing those ac­tiv­i­ties with a new United States Ma­rine Corps re­cruit bark­ing or­ders in your ear.

But that’s the way it was for some 125 LFO high school ath­letes this past Tues­day as the Red-and-White were put through their paces by some of the area’s new­est Marines, in­clud­ing some re­cent lo­cal high school grad­u­ates. The War­rior ath­letes and pushed them­selves in a boot camp-style course that was set up on the foot­ball prac­tice field.

“This was ac­tu­ally born out of last year,” said LFO Ath­letic Direc­tor Chris Eaves. “(Head foot­ball) Coach (Bo) Camp­bell did this last year with just the foot­ball team and when I was named Ath­letic Direc­tor back in April, one of the first things I thought was “let’s do this for the whole ath­letic pro­gram.

“I got with Sgt. (Joseph) Gar­cia from the West Ge­or­gia (Marines) re­cruit­ing area and he put ev­ery­thing to­gether and got all of the events set up. Then we co­or­di­nated ev­ery­thing, safety-wise, for the 120-130 (high school ath­letes) that we’ve got out here to­day. Most of the sports (at LFO) are rep­re­sented out here in some form or fash­ion.”

The ath­letes were di­vided into teams

that fea­tured male and fe­male ath­letes from a num­ber of dif­fer­ent sports, some­thing Eaves said was done in­ten­tion­ally to try and help build unity among the dif­fer­ent ath­letes and dif­fer­ent teams at the school.

“The ob­jec­tives I gave them to­day were to know who they are, know what their break­ing point is and get to know some other peo­ple on your team, whether they play a dif­fer­ent sport or whether they’re in a dif­fer­ent grade,” ex­plained Eaves, an LFO alum and a West Point grad­u­ate. “Then fi­nally, we wanted them to try and go past (their break­ing point).

“We wanted them to im­prove upon them­selves, whether it was one more rep or one more step or one more lap. We wanted them to prove to them­selves that they can go fur­ther than they think they can. The mind gives out a lot quicker than they body does, so this is much more men­tal than it is phys­i­cal.”

Each team got a score­card for each sta­tion as team mem­bers en­cour­aged each other to gut out each one of the gru­el­ing Ma­rine Corps fit­ness ex­er­cises. The ath­letic de­part­ment was awarded a cer­e­mo­nial USMC style paddle at the end of the event, while all the ath­letes found enough en­ergy for one fi­nal “War­riors” war chant.

Ris­ing se­nior Gra­cen Hobbs, a vol­ley­ball, bas­ket­ball and track ath­lete, said the ammo can carry was the tough­est test of the day as ath­letes had to carry the heavy and bulky con­tain­ers while com­plet­ing a lap around the field.

“It was a lit­tle bit of strug­gle, prob­a­bly be­cause it was so hot out here to­day, but I pushed through it,” she said with a smile. “I just wanted to help push my team­mates to do their best and hope­fully, this makes ev­ery­body bet­ter.”

Another ris­ing se­nior, foot­ball, bas­ket­ball and track ath­lete Justin Tram­mell, also cited the ammo carry as the tough­est part of the day, but said the best part was get­ting to know and see other peo­ple.

“With foot­ball, we’re out here every day,” he said. “I have friends that play other sports and some­times they’ll want me to come over and I have to tell them I can’t be­cause I’m tired from foot­ball prac­tice. This way, I get to see all my other friends, who play dif­fer­ent sports, and see them do­ing work too. It was fun to watch.”

Tram­mell added that the drills helped him men­tally by show­ing him what he could do.

“I was run­ning with the ammo crates and I got to a point where I didn’t think I could go any more, but I knew I had to keep go­ing,” he said. “It’s like that with every sport. You have to be able to go one more in­ning, one more play, one more quar­ter be­cause you want to win the game.”

In­com­ing fresh­man soft­ball player Auna Rolfe flips a tire, while ris­ing se­nior foot­ball player Ja­cob Flana­gan does Ma­rine-style pull-ups as part of boot camp drills held for LFO ath­letes this past Tues­day. More than 120 LFO ath­letes took part in the event, which was run by the Marines re­cruit­ment cen­ter of West Ge­or­gia. (Mes­sen­ger photo/Scott Herpst)

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