CAMP ZAMA (Oct. 30, 2019) -- Cadet Lt. Col. Maxwell Orlosky, a seasoned member of the Zama Middle High School drill and ceremonies team, emphasizes one piece of advice to new team members before they compete.

"Don't be stressed. Don't be nervous. If you're nervous, everyone's nervous," said Orlosky, who is also commander of the school's Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps "Trojan Battalion."

Orlosky's wisdom paid off when the team, which contains several new members, won first place in the Pacific East District Kanto Plains Drill and Color Guard Competition at the Yano Fitness Center here Oct. 26. Yokota High School came in second and Nile C. Kinnick High School from Yokosuka came in third.

Orlosky said the team's new members have adapted well and everyone works together as a team, no matter their experience level.

"We've built up from ground zero and we're just building our skyscraper right now," Orlosky said.

Cadet Master Sgt. Queen Thomas, the team's captain, said drill-team success depends mainly on working hard, staying focused and making a commitment, and members of the team, including the new members, have done exactly that.

"We have a couple of freshmen on here too, and they did great," said Thomas, a sophomore. "So it doesn't depend on which grade level or if you're a [leadership education and training) 1 or LET 4; it's just about your commitment and how hard you work."

Retired Lt. Col. Douglas Fields, the Zama JROTC program's senior instructor, said drill and ceremonies is a Department of Defense Education Activity varsity sport, and members of the team practice their routines every day after school during the drill season.

When students from different schools come together for the competitions, it builds camaraderie for drill teams throughout the region, Fields said.

"This is all about the kids," Fields said. "It's not about 'that team's better than the next.' It's really about the kids coming together in the spirit of fun and having a good time performing."

Cadet Command Sgt. Maj. Jason Loiselle, the Zama team's co-captain and exhibition commander, agreed.

Loiselle, who has been competing on the team for three years and developed this year's armed exhibition routine, said he especially enjoys performing in the exhibition portion of competitions, which allows cadets to be creative.

"Drill and ceremony may seem boring at first, but once everyone starts to get it down, it starts to become fun," Loiselle said. "After you get down regulation, you make your exhibition, that's when everyone starts to have fun."

Cadet Pvt. Michael Manangan, new to the team this year, said he decided to give the drill team a try after retired Sgt. Maj. Danny Davis, an Army JROTC instructor at the school, suggested he join, and he is glad he did.

"Everyone is friends; the chemistry is crazy," Manangan said. "I just love practicing with this team. My favorite part of drill has to be the practices because that's where we learn the most and that's where we get the most [out of it]. I'm really proud of how far we've gone this year."

Davis said that because Zama is at an Army base, Yokota is at an Air Force base and Kinnick is at a Navy base, two judges from each military branch judged the competition.

Cadets competed in an inspection, armed regulation, unarmed regulation, armed exhibition, unarmed exhibition, color guard, solo exhibition armed and dual exhibition armed, according to the score sheet.

The Zama team competes again Nov. 13 through 15 at Kinnick High School during the Far East Drill Meet.