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This is it, the end of the road… the road to Sandhurst.
The 2022 Sandhurst Military Skills Competition has arrived along with 48 of the world’s best teams to face-off April 29-30, 2022 at the United States Military Academy–West Point.
“Sandhurst is a military skills competition that was brought over by the English to West Point as an Officer’s competition, initially. It’s grown to bring in ROTC teams and other academies like the Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard, and now we bring in other international Cadets,” said Noah Umezaki, a senior from the University of North Georgia. “It’s just going over military training, military skills, and endurance. Anything you can really think of that would be tied to military training, we will be testing and competing against each other this weekend.”
Lt. Col. Nate Conkey is the Professor of Military Science at Auburn University. He sees Sandhurst as “a massive opportunity for these Cadets.”
“We’re training with and for one another at a team level, but also training with and for national and international partners,” he said.
“It's important for the camaraderie, the teamwork and certainly for training whatever might be next,” Conkey adds. “It gets them a chance to improve their leadership skills–no better way to figure that out than competing on the fields of friendly strife. We learn a whole lot of things about ourselves when we’re introduced to the physical stress, the mental stress, and knowing that we can push well beyond any known barriers that we had before.”
Over the next two days, the competition will be fierce. Teams have been training all year for the chance to prove their worth and vie for the glory and title of being the best in the world.
“We train five days a week, and we split that between technical, physical, and academic training.” said Cadet John Shustack, a senior from Auburn University. “We try to keep everything well-rounded, and we tie everything in together. We combine what we’ve learned and we test each other. We put everybody forward so that way we’re all strong and competent on everything.”
Teams battled it out against their friends, peers, and rivals in the brigade ranger challenges and have now reached the pinnacle of collegiate military sports. Each program brings a level of training and experience that has set them apart from other programs.
“It takes every Cadet from all over the world–from every backroad in America to every mountain in Europe–it takes them and places them in a global competition that competes against each other to show who is the best ROTC program or the best academy. That’s why we’re here,” said Cadet Zachary Zotti, a sophomore from Penn State University.
This year’s contenders include Cadets from Army ROTC, West Point, international programs, as well as Naval, Coast Guard, and Air Force academies.
The 16 ROTC teams, representing each of the eight U.S. Army Cadet Command brigades, see these match-ups as a chance to demonstrate the leadership excellence their programs strive to achieve all year.
“Competition breeds strong and adaptable leaders,” said Umezaki. “Having an event like this, where you have so many different competitors from so many different types of trainings, paths, and methodologies and being able to see other people compete and what their strategies and tactics are compared to yours is how you win.”
When teams step-off tomorrow morning, the movement throughout the day and evening will be non-stop as they navigate their way through twelve obstacles and an 8-mile ruck march. Although the teams feel prepared for the challenges of the weekend, there is still a level of anxiety as they approach unknown territory.
“I think the biggest thing for our team will just be knowing who is going to be on each event, because we have our own breakdown and roster for everything, but my understanding is that for certain events [USMA] will get to pick,” Shustack said. “We’ve trained to that standard, and we’ve made sure everybody is spun up on everything, so that way no matter who they choose to put on an event we’re all still good to go. But still just because of that level of uncertainty I think that’s probably our biggest pause.”
Many teams have seasoned competitors, now in their fourth and final year of competing on a Ranger Challenge team. Other teams, bring new competitors to the playing field.
“This is our teams first time here since 2013, so we are fresh on experience,” said Garrett Young, a junior from Penn State University. “We’re interested to see what they’re going to throw at us, and how they’re going to throw it at us. We’re just going to roll with the punches and put out our best.”
When the dust has settled, and the last boots have crossed the finish line on April 30, an overall winner will be announced based on their performance during these next two days.
“We’re looking forward to how everything will play out and seeing how the teams do under the real pressure,” said Umezaki. “I think we’ll do really well. Obviously you can’t win every lane, but I think we’ll be able to bounce back and continue the mission and keep trying our best.”
About Army ROTC
Army ROTC is one of the best leadership courses in the country and is part of your college curriculum. Through classes and field training, Army ROTC provides you with the tools to become an Army Officer without interfering with your other classes. ROTC also provides you with discipline and money for tuition while enhancing your college experience.
Army ROTC offers pathways to becoming an Army Officer for high school students, current active duty Soldiers, and for current National Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers through the Simultaneous Membership Program.