On the right sidebar of this blog, it says "Welcome to Burnt Orange Nation, a blog dedicated to University of Texas athletics." While this phrase is typically associated with articles over Texas Football, Basketball, and Baseball, it also encompasses the wide variety of students who represent the University of Texas in athletic competitions. With this in mind (and in the spirit of Memorial Day), I wanted to branch out and write an article over the recent accomplishments of a particular group of students.
Even though it didn't get a lot of publicity, a group of UT Army ROTC cadets recently competed at the annual Sandhurst Military Skills Competition at West Point. Since the Sandhurst Competition started in 1967, this was the first time the UT Army ROTC Program has received an invitation. In fact, to earn this invitation, the UT cadets had to be selected as the top ROTC Competition Team across the states of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and Wyoming. As soon as I received the good news, I made arrangements to be able to attend the competition as a spectator.
More, after the jump...
Before going any further, I want to highlight the extensive training the cadets received prior to the competition. As explained by the UT Army ROTC website:
The 11 carefully selected Longhorns have been enduring challenging training since the week prior to classes starting on January 17, 2012. Over the past three months they have conducted multiple mini-competitions, 5 strenuous PT sessions a week, and 2 extra labs per week. Not to mention, extra weekend training that consists of going to the range, Zodiac (rubber boat) training, land navigation, obstacle course, and rapelling. 56 teams from across the world will compete in the Sandhurst competition for the chance to prove their skills and leadership in a global aspect. Texas Army is honored to represent the University of Texas, 5th Apache Brigade, and Cadet Command at the United State Military Academy West Point, New York on 20-21 April 2012.
In regards to the actual competition, I could not have been prouder of the cadets. Throughout the competition, they maintained a positive attitude, gave every event their best effort, and demonstrated the exact type of tactical and technical proficiency required by their future profession. Additionally, they constantly worked together as a team, displayed critical thinking skills, and--most importantly--they served as outstanding stewards and ambassadors of the University of Texas. They didn't win, but their actions at the competition assured themselves that they couldn't lose.
To that extent, attending the Sandhurst Competition drove home the point of Baron Pierre de Couberti, who once said that "the most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part; the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well." I think that sometimes, especially in regards to amateur athletics, people can get overly wrapped up in the concept of wins and losses. In certain events (and definitely in regards to the Sandhurst Competition), the key is simply to follow the advice of Baron Pierre de Couberti and seek to "fight well." Which they did.
While I remain proud of my degrees from Texas, I'm more proud of the fact that someone from my family has graduated from UT in each of the past 5 decades. The steady stream of UT grads from my family tree serves as a constant reminder of the overall history of our University. It serves as a reminder of the litany of accomplishments from the University's past and present students. And, along those same lines, it reminds me of just how hard it is for a group of students to do something that has never been done before. Which, just last month, is exactly what happened. And it's exactly why I wanted to highlight the efforts of this special group of cadets.