Florida Southern College’s women’s lacrosse team and ROTC unit collaborated in a series of obstacles at the Polk County Sheriff’s Department in Bartow on Feb. 20.
The collaboration came about when Lieutenant Colonel LaRonde, professor of military science, went to several athletic teams because of the low number of student athletes who also participated in the ROTC program.
“He [LaRonde] had come in to talk about looking into trying to get student athletes to possibly join ROTC, so he came in as part of an informational session about that,” Coach Kara Reber, head coach for the women’s lacrosse team, said.
Afterwards, Reber approached LaRonde about doing something with the ROTC program.
“Turns out Kara Reber actually mentioned to me coming out and having her team participate in one of our activities,” LaRonde said.
While ROTC completes labs every Wednesday, the one that the lacrosse team participated in was of a higher intensity and done less frequently.
“We do that twice a year, once a semester,” MS4 Nancy Glesil said.
The lab was run by ROTC seniors who gave both ROTC cadets and the lacrosse team their instructions.
“We don’t teach the labs,” LaRonde said. “The seniors teach the labs. This is a leadership program. You teach people how to lead.”
The challenges were a series of situational tasks. One challenge for the women’s lacrosse team involved a survival situation, such as getting an injured teammate to the roof.
Some members of the lacrosse team threw themselves into the challenge, carrying teammates across their backs. Others cheered their teammates on, much to the interest of ROTC unit, who maintained “noise discipline,” in the words of LaRonde.
“They said we’re not lacking motivating each other,” Reber said.
Having another group on the course provided its own challenges.
“It was a little distracting…but other than that it was just like another group being out there,” Glesil said.
While the lacrosse team focused on their tasks, ROTC candidates worked out more formal training exercises with formal write-ups.
The different activities are meant to help prepare for LDAC, the Leadership Development Assessment Course that juniors in ROTC are required to take.
“The better you do at LDAC, the more likely you are to get your branch of choice,” Glesil said.
However, the labs also serve another purpose.
“For the labs, what we want them to do is learn how to critically think. Because, as we learn in the army, not all problems are simple math problems: there are some consequences to our actions,” LaRonde said.
LaRonde was happy that the two groups had an opportunity to work together.
“Athletics and military lifestyle have so much in common,” LaRonde said. “A sports team, you gather a group of individuals, you give them certain tasks…from the practices and the efforts leaders emerge, personalities are defined and you find strengths and weaknesses within the individuals within the group, and you work to mitigate those weaknesses and enhance those strengths. And that happens a lot in the army too.”
Reber said that she was “hopeful” that they would be able to do another cooperative exercise with the ROTC in the future, and LaRonde said that he would be interested in doing another one as well.
Reber said that the exercise helped teach members of the women’s lacrosse team how to improve working together.
“They need to rely on their teammates to help them out,” Reber said.
(Featured image provided by Wesley Cook.)