This weekend, Barton Hall played host to the 23rd annual Cornell University Invitational Drill Competition. Twenty-eight teams from 21 schools — from as far away as Colorado — competed in the Naval ROTC sponsored event.
Many of the visiting participants arrived Friday evening, slept on the floor of Barton Hall, and awoke at 5:30 a.m. ready to compete — a phenomenon not seen at Cornell since course exchange.
“For Cornell NROTC, this is the largest event of the year. Midshipmen spend part of the spring semester, the summer and nearly all of the fall semester organizing the competition. Everyone within our unit is involved in organizing and coordinating each event,” said NROTC Public Affairs Officer Thomas Sheldon ’02.
The competition, held all day Saturday, consisted of exercises such as platoon inspection, squad drill and color guard. In addition to the Drill Competition, a Military Excellence Competition and Hoops Tournament were held in conjunction with the event.
The Military Excellence Competition included swimming events, a 10K run, relay races and an Ironman competition. The weekend adjourned with a basketball tournament. Teams competed for event specific as well as overall titles.
U.S. Merchant Marine Academy won first place in the drill competition, Villanova University came in second and the University of Virginia placed third.
Cornell placed first in, among other events, the overall swim competition as well as the 10K run. Cornell finished an overall second in the Military Excellence Competition, behind Villanova University.
“It’s a great way to build leadership,” Sheldon noted. “After all, college students are put in charge of organizing the event.”
Operations Officer Hillary Mitchell ’02, one of the students in charge of organizing the event, was impressed with the turnout.
“We contacted 36 teams, 28 of which are in attendance,” she said. The competition, perhaps the largest of its kind on the East Coast, drew about 800 participants.
The participating schools included the U.S. Air Force Academy, U.S. Naval Academy, West Point, Pennsylvania State University, University of Pennsylvania, University of Virginia and others.
When asked what motivates someone to participate in an event like this, Sheldon responded, “It satisfies a natural need for competition and also allows you to meet other midshipmen with whom you will be working in the near future.”
Judges for the competition came from the 8th and I Marine Barracks in Washington, D.C. — home to what is widely considered the best drill team in the world.
“Throughout the semester, we met on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6:00 a.m. for an hour of drill practice,” said Assistant Drill Instructor Aleah Zolenski ’03, describing the rigorous training Cornell NROTC participants underwent in preparation for the event.
“This event gives us a little friendly competition, camaraderie and a chance to have a good time,” said Battalion Commander Charles Phillips ’02.
Archived article by Philip Lane