Marine Corps boot camp tests LFO athletes
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)