Members of Evans High School's JROTC Knight Drill Team are normal, playful teenagers. But when the 17-member team suits up for exhibition competition, they're all business.
The serious attitude pays off for the team, which earned first place for the second consecutive year in the Georgia High School Drill Team Championships on March 19 at Fort Gordon. The win earned the team a trip to the national competition May 4-7 in Daytona Beach, Fla.
"They are a dedicated bunch, and they work as a team," said Sgt. 1st Class Sammie Stokes, the drill team coach. The team has earned the state title five times in the past nine years.
"To win state back to back, they have to be good," Stokes said.
The team captains, Cadet Capt. Mario White and Cadet Lt. Col. Levi Turner, agree that it takes teamwork to make the Evans drill team so difficult to beat. While performing their title-winning routine at the JROTC Spring Review on March 29, the group moved as one with the single unified "clack" as palms stopped spinning rifles.
Stokes said his team is so dedicated that he has no problem getting them to mandatory 6 a.m. practices each school day and a second daily practice from 3-4 p.m.
"And sometimes on Saturday," Stokes said, adding that practices will continue through the national competition where the team earned seventh place last year. "I have to run them away," he said. "They'd spin their rifles 24/7."
The team does boast a handful of freshman members this year.
"It was hard. I had a few bruised hands, but it's all right," Cadet Corey McDaniel said, adding that all the work was worth bringing home the state title.
But he, like most of the other team members have one goal for their national competition routine.
"Perfection," McDaniel said.
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