Soldiers school college students
FORT CARSON, Colo. -- Spc. Phillip Amerson, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Carson, left, leads 24 Calvin College students from Grand Rapids, Mich., in a physical training warm-up session Jan. 17 before the students completed a five-mile run as part of their monthlong class on the study of competition. The students traveled from California to Colorado, performing various physical and mental challenges.

FORT CARSON, Colo. -- In the brush and brambles near Gate 1, 24 Calvin College students lay facedown in the dirt, performing pushups and rowers as Soldiers called cadence.

"So far it's going great," said Jenna Heethuis, a junior, as she performed a windmill exercise.

"I'm a little nervous (for the run). I'm expecting it to be extremely, extremely difficult."

Heethuis and her fellow classmates from Grand Rapids, Mich., participated in the Jan. 17 physical training session with Fort Carson Soldiers before completing a five-mile run with obstacle checkpoints as part of their monthlong course on the study of competition.

"(PT) is interesting," said Jon Bosma, a sophomore. "In the elevation, I'm not really (looking forward to the run)."

For one month, the 12 teams traveled from California to Colorado in an "Amazing Race"-style battle, performing physical and mental challenges while studying the art of competition, said Amber Warners, a professor of kinesiology at Calvin College.

"I think the military has to perform under pressure," said Brian Bolt, a professor of kinesiology at Calvin College. "There's cooperation embedded in competition. High-level military and high-level sport shares that grit and toughness and the expectation that you must have the mental capacity to overcome physical challenges."

Students participated in challenges involving professional race car driving, sky diving and dog sled racing. In addition to the physical challenges, students studied various groups in competition, including genders in the workplace and among siblings.

Warners said the winning team receives a free semester of books.

At Fort Carson, students performed Army physical training under the scrutiny of seasoned Soldiers.

"The main lesson that they will face is will they continue to be the best they can be. To do that, you have to rely on that person next to you," said Sgt. 1st Class Justin Payne, 4th Engineer Battalion.

Warners said the college students enjoyed their experience at Fort Carson and came away with a better understanding of men and women in uniform.

"The students have a new appreciation for what people sacrifice for our country and how mentally and physically tough they are," she said.

Page last updated Thu January 24th, 2013 at 11:07