COPPERAS COVE — Combine 250 teenagers, nine competitive events and a will to win. The equation resulted in a gritty competition that produced champions.

It was all about pride in their unit and school for cadets of the Copperas Cove High School JROTC Bulldawg Battalion who competed Saturday for top honors in the annual JROTC organizational day.

Students competed in various events, including capture the unit flag, an obstacle course, traditional tug of war, dodgeball and pushball, where cadets pushed an enormous ball taller than they were across the goal line to defeat the opposing team. The muddy ground from the night’s previous rain and high winds made the contests even more exciting with cadets slipping and sliding to victory and to defeat.

“The purpose of this event is to build esprit de corps. Our cadets do not all see each other during the school day. (Organizational day) is one of three events during the year where the entire battalion is together,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Enrique Herrera, JROTC instructor. “Its important for the cadets to be able gauge their performances and abilities so they can always be improving.”

The cadets are solely responsible for the event, including planning, logistics, competitions and regulations. They produce operational orders and standard operating procedures just like active-duty military. The planning committee met twice weekly for the last 60 days.

“We learned to work with other people and really communicate,” said Cadet Alexandria Goodsby who served on the planning committee. “We couldn’t slack on this because we had a lot of different things going on for (organizational day). We learned we can compete and still have fun.”

Pushball is the favorite event for the petite female cadet who grinned when she talked about the ball being twice as tall as she is. For JROTC Publicity Chairman Claudia Daniels, her favorite event is capture the flag.

“You really have to work together as a team, devise a strategy and plan it out. You have to protect the unit colors but also hide them. It’s a great event.”

Freshman Noah Gamo is new to JROTC this year, but it is meeting his every expectation.

“I’ve been wanting to be in JROTC since I was in middle school,” said Gamo, the son of a retired Army soldier. “I couldn’t wait until I got to high school.

“JROTC helps us academically because whether you are competing as a marksman or on the rifle drill team, you have to pass (your classes) to participate. I can’t wait to wear my uniform every week. We look sharp and together. The experience of being in JROTC is amazing.”

Herrera said the JROTC program continues to grow at Cove High School and has 262 cadets participating this year.

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