PARKERSBURG – Parkersburg High School’s Big Red football team got a taste of military discipline Friday during a Marine Corps Leadership Seminar.
Sgt. Maj. Dennis Bradley of the Marine Corps Recruiting Station in Charleston said the leadership seminar is a program offered to high school and college sports programs throughout West Virginia and four surrounding states. The day-long program at Parkersburg High School was the first of 20 programs planned for this summer, he said.
Officials hold classroom sessions in the opening hours, talking about leadership traits, the Marine Corps and how students can be team and community leaders. Afterwards the students are run through a multi-station course where they can experience some of the Marine Corps training regimen, from doing group pushups to flipping industrial-sized tires to running while carrying a teammate.
“The goal of this is to help the coaching staff identify leaders in their teams,” Bradley said. “Once everyone starts getting fatigued, you start to see who can rally the team to victory.”
Coach Donnie Reeves said it is a tough lesson delivered by some equally tough men.
“We think there is no better example of total team commitment and mental fitness than the Marines,” he said. “In any athletic event there are going to be tough times. We want to see how they get through it, especially as a team.”
Reeves said the athletes weren’t told about the seminar until Wednesday, and their reaction was mixed, at least at first.
“It caught them a little by surprise,” he said. “They warmed up to it though. For some of them, when they found out about the physical part, they took it as a challenge.”
Reeves said how the players handled themselves Friday will give coaches an idea of how they would handle themselves on the field during a game. The players were divided up into six “tribes,” to compete against one another, but individual victories meant little unless each team succeeded as a whole.
“We’re going to watch and see who are going to be the leaders of these groups,” Reeves said. “In the long run, these leaders will be our team captains.”