Just like competitors in any high-school sport, Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps athletes achieve success through effort and teamwork.
Also, like other prep players, JROTC cadets don't mind doing some trash talking.
"I don't think anyone is too disciplined for that," Evans B Team commander Brian Tanner said.
Tanner and the Knight Raiders earned Columbia County bragging rights last week by outlasting the Lakeside JROTC last week in the Rodgers Cup competition.
There was some good-natured banter between the county foes, but it was all business during the grueling competition.
"You just run out of energy on half the stuff you're doing," Tanner said. "You have to keep pushing yourself and find more energy."
In addition to Evans and Lakeside, JROTC teams from Harlem, Laney, Hephzibah and Academy of Richmond County also competed for the cup.
The Rodgers Cup began last Tuesday at Lakeside, with the home team winning the one-rope bridge and ravine-crossing competitions. Evans also got off to a good start by taking the physical-fitness and map-reading events.
The Knight Raiders poured it on Thursday on their home turf. Thursday's competitions were search and rescue, obstacle course and team run. Evans swept all three events to claim a 10th straight Rodgers Cup.
"We won, but it's getting tougher every year," said Col. Patrick Rivette, Evans' JROTC leader. "Lakeside was second in most of the events we won. Hephzibah and ARC also have strong teams, and it's great to have competition. The sport has been growing a lot across the state over the last five years."
Though many cadets are preparing themselves for a future in the military, the Rodgers Cup competition proves there are some immediate rewards.
"It's been really exciting. This gives cadets a good challenge, and it makes them confident," said Jacob Rumbaugh, Lakeside's senior JROTC commander.
There's more to it than dressing in fatigues and marching in formation.
"Motivating young people to be better citizens is the mission of JROTC, and the Raider competition lets our young people put leadership skills into action," said retired Lt. Col. Charles Schuman, Lakeside's senior army instructor.
As the Rodgers Cup wrapped up last week, there wasn't a horde of fans on hand to cheer the champions.
But the JROTC cadets aren't overlooked by their peers.
"They really don't know what we do, but they show us respect and understand we work twice as hard as everybody else," Rumbaugh said. "We have a lot of dedication to each other. We're practically like family."
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.