FORT SILL, Oklahoma (May 28, 2021) -- Every month, 1st Battalion, 78th Field Artillery conducts a Teamwork Fitness Challenge to promote esprit de corps, camaraderie, competition, and a culture of fitness for the Soldiers in its four batteries. Teams of eight Soldiers go through seven timed stations that test cardio, strength, flexibility, and mental limits.
“I think it’s probably harder than the ACFT (Army Combat Fitness Test),” said competitor Pfc. Elizabeth McGuire, a fire control specialist student in D Battery. She said she struggled with the dead lifts, but aced the abdominal Russian twists doing 100.
Platoon Sergeant/instructor Sgt. 1st Class Antwan Jones designed this month’s competition. He said the stations, some of which consisted of multiple exercises, were designed to prepare Soldiers for the ACFT.
Events included air squats, situps, kettlebell swings, team tire flips, a sled drag, and a 1-mile litter carry with a 270-pound dummy.
Many competitors found the leg tuck to be the most difficult event, said Jones. Here, Soldiers had to lift their knees to their elbows with arms extended while they were suspended on a high bar. “A lot of Soldiers have trouble doing leg tucks, so that’s the reason I put it in so people know: ‘Hey, you need to start working to get better.”
And, some competitors had difficulty with the rowing machine, Jones said. “Rowing 6,000 meters is not easy.”
Teams consisted of two drill sergeants, two staff members (NCO/officer cadre), two male trainees, and two female trainees, Jones said.
After 90 minutes of grueling competition, B Battery was declared the winner.
“It feels pretty good to win, we usually do,” said Senior Drill Sergeant (Sgt. 1st Class) Randy Veen, who captained the B Battery team.
The other winning team's members were: Drill Sergeant (Staff Sgt.) Lorraine Yarber; instructor Staff Sgt. Toby Litten, instructor Staff Sgt. Kyle Thornton and trainees Sgt. Emmanuel Gooden, Spc. James Kelly, Pvt. Noelle Aulaumea, and Pvt. Madelyn Goodale.
The team didn’t do any special training together, only their regular physical training, because team members were spread out across the battalion, Veen said. “We just identified team members, got together today for the competition, and did it.”
Veen said the team did well in most of the events. The litter carry was particularly challenging.
Command Sgt. Maj. Stephon Barker, 1-78th FA CSM, presented the B Battery team with “The Sledge,” a gold-colored sledge hammer that the battery will hold until next month’s competition. He also gave each team member his coin of excellence.
“The Teamwork Fitness Challenge builds a competitive spirit, and teamwork within the battalion,” Barker said. “It was a great competition.”
Battalion members who were not participating were there in PT gear to cheer on, and encourage the competitors from their respective batteries. It was conducted at Teamwork Field off Blair Road behind 1-78th FA Headquarters, during regular PT hours.
Pfc. Bradley Gingles’ drill sergeant told him he was going to compete after he saw Gingles’ ACFT score. “I’m very honored to represent Delta Battery,” said Gingles, a fire control specialist student.
What did Gingles gain from the challenge?
“I love being out here competing. I gained a lot of motivation, and growing that bond with my teammates,” he said. “I had never seen our battalion together until today, so that was awesome.”