Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
The Leavenworth High School Junior ROTC Raider team is preparing to compete for another championship title by making additions to the practice obstacle course Aug. 8 behind the football field.
The additions, which include over-and-under obstacles that span 70 feet and a 10-foot climbing wall, were funded by a $2,500 grant from the Education Foundation. The obstacles are similar to those found at courses at area and national JROTC Raider competitions.
“It is to give them an advantage over other teams, to give them the right training,” said Mary Schwartz, LHS Raider team coach. “Also, what it does for the team, it invests them into this because they’re building it, so them investing their time and effort into this gives them some ownership.”
Retired 1st Sgt. Wayne Cogdill, LHS Raider team coach and JROTC instructor, agreed.
“My thing is you train as you fight,” Cogdill said. “All the Raider meets that we go to in the region, we look at obstacles, we take pictures, we get the measurements, and then we build those obstacles here at our school … and it’s worth it.”
Cadet Capt. Madison Knapp, LHS senior, said she’s excited for the additional obstacles in the course.
“Bringing in these obstacles from different meets, we’re able to train on them and get better at them as opposed to some other people that may not have these yet or aren’t practicing,” Knapp said. “It’ll really help us get through those parts of the obstacle courses faster, and it’ll improve our time.”
About 40 of the team members and parents gathered to help build the additions to the obstacle course, including former LHS JROTC Raider parent Joe Zule whose son Zackary graduated in 2015.
“It’s a good program. That’s why I continue to help,” Zule said. “It’s for the kids.”
Even with the year just starting, putting in the obstacle course additions has the team’s sights set on another national title.
“I think we have even more potential than we did last year because we have even stronger people,” said Cadet Capt. Tate Sanders, LHS senior.
Schwartz said she knows the team has what it takes to win again.
“They are such a phenomenally strong team. They have encouraged each other for the past many years,” Schwartz said. “Some of them, this’ll be their fourth year and some of them, this’ll be their first year. This team has an incredible ability to just swoop people in and make them part of the family and the team very quickly.”
Cogdill said he won’t accept anything less than winning.
“I’m the type of person that I will never tell kids that I believe we’re going to win. I tell kids, we are going to win,” Cogdill said. “You got two roads. You got this road that is failure, and I barricaded this road. You can’t go up this road. I’m pushing you up the road to success.
“It starts now, and I want you guys to be winners now and fulfill the competition,” he said. “It’s going to carry over in life that you’re winners. … We’re always going after the gold.”
JROTC Raider team practices have continued as normal over the summer but with social distancing and sanitization measures in place because of COVID-19. Face coverings are worn when at least six-feet of social distancing is not maintainable.