Marines Help Build Unity For Weeki Wachee Football
By: Timothy Garrison
There was a bluebird sky on the morning of Saturday May 2, 2015 when the Weeki Wachee High School football team started their day off with the Marine Corps from local recruiting stations here in Central Florida.
Team work, leadership, and self accountability were the focus of the day. Leading the recruiters was Station Commander Staff Sergeant Rafael Rodriguez, who gathered all thirty-one of Weeki Wachee’s players that were in attendance for this non-mandatory team building exercise.
Rodriguez spoke to them briefly about what they were going to expect in the day’s workout, and after choosing eight team leaders they fell in single file line behind eight Marine recruiters where they began with dynamic stretches.
Then the recruiters broke off with their initial players into eight separate stations all designed to push the players physically. While each station offered a physical exercise the recruiters talked to the players, while they were going through these workouts, about what key words meant such as mental toughness, courage and fatigue. Each recruiter would ask what some of these words meant asking the players to define these terms.
“These drills are designed to test the player’s individual strength, while showing them their teammates are behind them.” Rodriguez said. “The drills are centered around three core values speed, volume and intensity.”
After five minutes at each of the eight stations the Hornets came together as a team in the north end zone where Staff Sergeant Rodriguez instructed the players to break off into two event teams. Each team would then partake in a team build team bonding event.
The event consisted of two metal chin-up platforms, each of which could be easily disassembled into several smaller pieces. The Hornet football players were given general directions on the rules of the event which was designed to test the player’s mental toughness as they had to work together as a team to perform tasks as one.
The young men were then divided into teams by classes; the entering seniors with entering freshmen and entering sophomores with entering juniors. The first part of the event was squad push-ups. The rule here was the players had to be linked together as a unit. The recruiters demonstrated a way that they could perform this exercise. They linked themselves together in a push-up formation one man in front of the other in a line the first person put his feet on the shoulders of the man behind him and then the next man put his feet on the shoulders of the next and so forth.
In unison all four men performed a push-up where only their hands were touching the ground as their feet were on the shoulders of the man behind him only the last man’s feet were on the ground. The Weeki Wachee players had to do ten push-ups, all together. They tried to the same way the recruiters showed them only with the mixed strengths of the players caused a bit of an issue.
Fatigued, both teams tried to perform in the interlocked manner that the recruiters demonstrated, however the coolness of the morning gave way to the heat of the Florida sun, this caused the players to experience what mental toughness is in moments of physical fatigue.
It wasn’t long until certain failure turned into success as the senior’s leadership prevailed and they were able to interlock with one another arm in arm in a push-up formation, completing the task as a team.
The next part of the event enlisted the players to take the mobile chin-up bar apart and move each piece fifty yards down the field, together. The chin-up platform consisted of seven pieces. Seven players each had one piece to move in unison, while the remaining players were required to belly crawl keeping their heads and tails down. At the fifty yard line the Hornet players reassembled the mobile chin-up platform and as a team then preformed 100 chin-ups.
For the next part of the event the players were to disassemble the platform again and this time they had to move one piece at a time while crawling on their bellies.
“Think outside the box”, is what Staff Sergeant Nate Raymer suggested, in an attempt to prod the players to victory. Staff Sergeant Raymer is the local Marine Corp recruiter for Weeki Wachee high School.
After reaching the goal line the recruiters picked five players out of each team calling them “casualties” which their fellow teammates were to carry these five 100 yards back to win. It was close but the senior/freshmen were victorious, as they finished first. Although, all the Hornet players were victorious as each one of them partook in these team building events.
Finally, after them main event was completed, Staff Sergeant Rodriguez gathered everyone around for closing remarks. The young men listened intently as Staff Sergeant Rodriguez finished up the day’s activities with a statement;
“Unity is thinking what your teammate is thinking, before they act – ahead of time. Every one of you on the field should know what their fellow teammate is thinking. If you don’t come together as a team, you will never win.”
Head Coach Mark Lee followed up with saying, “Those [players] that didn’t make it [to this event] don’t beat them down. Educate them on what they missed and what the expectations are of them for this team. We have the foundation of the team to build.”
When asked what the take away was from these events that the team experienced entering junior quarterback Alec Cromie, entering senior running back Shawn O’Gorman, and entering senior outside line backer Donte Young individually said they felt this was going to benefit the team as it is going to strengthen them as a team. Talking about the first week of spring practices O’Gorman said, “This definitely the best first week we have had as a team.”