TCU Army ROTC cadets were up before dawn on Thursday for physical training, but they were not running or doing their typical drills.
The cadets instead played coneball, a variation of kickball where teams run the bases in groups of four. The cadet battalion assembled on the intramural fields at 6:15 a.m. and stretched as a group before dividing into teams by class.
Junior cadet Stephanie Aviles planned the event and said having a fun activity every once in a while increases the cadets’ morale. She said she chose coneball because it is a sport that helps get everyone to participate.
“A lot of times when we play sports like soccer, it’s really easy for people to stand around and not do anything,” she said. “And the whole point of physical training is to get a workout. Coneball’s just a really good sport that you get everyone involved in, especially if you move and you have to work in groups, then it’s a lot more teamwork involved.”
The senior cadets’ team finished with the best record for the morning at 2-0, winning its second game by more than 20 runs. Some teams received extra assistance from instructors that joined in the activity.
“That’s where the mess-talking comes in,” junior cadet Jarrod McClendon said of playing with the cadre members. “Just being able to mess with those guys while they’re out here [is great]. And it shows the humanity in them. Sometimes you look at higher rank and you forget that these are people too. So they get to come out and mess with us. And it’s always good fun.”
Sgt. 1st Class Johnny Thompson was one of the cadre members to join the fray and said the morning was as fun for the instructors as it was for the students.
“It’s like reliving your childhood,” he said. “You get to come out here and play with the cadets, and a lot of the time the cadre will participate on the teams of the students that the instruct. So we end up with cadre against cadre as well. And it has the same effect on us as it does with the students.”
The cadets have one remaining sports day scheduled for April 17. Thompson said the events give cadets opportunities to train and team-build with the other cadets in their classes.
“You get to work as a class and try to compete against the other classes,” he said. “They have a little camaraderie within their own class, a little bit of ‘us against them.’ And they really enjoy that.”
Aviles said she thought the activity was a success because it gave the cadets some physical activity but also let them have a good time.
“There were a few kinks, but I think overall it was successful if the main point of the morning is for everyone to have fun and get a workout,” she said. “Maybe it wasn’t the most extensive workout, but everyone got moving and had fun.”