Army ROTC students prepare for military life by protecting students and civilians on game day and dealing with difficult fans.
TCU game days are characterized by screaming fans, crowds of people and congested parking. For the ROTC students, game day means controlling all of the above.
“It’s nuts. It’s just controlled chaos.”
That is how senior Cadet Maj. Emily Mittag said it's like to be out on the field when hundreds of children run out before the game starts. Maintaining the children as they rush onto the field for bleacher creatures before games is one of the many game day tasks facing ROTC students every home game.
Mittag is one of the seniors in charge of the cadets whose task is specifically to keep the children safe.
“Ultimately our major concern is just commanding and controlling the situation,” Mittag said.
Command and control are two major components of what the cadets do each game which prepares the ROTC students for the Army, Lt. Col. Christopher Talcott said. Talcott said it is especially important for the seniors to gain leadership experience, since they will be putting that into practice in six months.
“They go through the army planning cycle, but we use it for the TCU football games. It’d be no different if they were deployed to a foreign country. They’d have to plan it, rehearse it and execute it,” Talcott said.
Cadets also ensure that fans make it safely to and from the buses that carry them to the six different parking lots open for game days as well as crowd control. Talcott said working with rowdy fans before a football game prepares them to deal with tough people and situations once they have graduated.
“They’re helping with the influx of people coming to the game and making sure that things flow well. People are in a hurry, so their ability to remain calm and professional and represent the university is part of training because it’s really like that in the real world,” Talcott said.
Senior Cadet Capt. Kevin Frey has experienced frustration with rowdy fans first hand.
“People don’t really use their common sense or brains, and it’s really frustrating. I’ve seen some cadets get harassed at pre-game. It’s kind of baffling to see how people will treat a cadet just standing there who’s trying to say we want help you.” Frey said.
Frey said angry civilians are not a big problem, but that he sees it as an opportunity to develop his skills further. For some, game day is all about the personal experience, and when that has been compromised, tensions rise. But for Army ROTC students, game day is a chance to practice some of the skills they will need in life.
“It just goes into what we’re being taught to be future officers, you just have to be calm, poised and controlled at all times, just keep your composure, handle accordingly, don’t lose [your] temper [and] don’t get angry,“ Frey said.