WEST POINT, N.Y., April 6, 2011 -- While West Point celebrated Women's History Month throughout March, a group of female cadets were making history of their own.
On March 7, the West Point Women's Boxing Team made their debut at the Maryland Boxing Invitational, winning three of four bouts and creating a distinct presence in the arena of collegiate boxing, according to Coach Bobbi Scroggin.
"We went there, represented, and it was pretty flawless," Scroggin said. "I think we really showed off our talents, so I was very proud. I've received a lot of feedback from other college coaches."
Class of 2013 Cadet Giovanna Camacho still finds it hard to believe it was just a year ago when she and a group of cadets, led by Class of 2010 graduate Nargis Kabiri, laid the groundwork to prove women's boxing could be viable at West Point. As team captain, Camacho feels privileged to continue on that path.
"Now when I look back it seems to have happened so fast, but during that process it seemed so slow," Camacho said. "I was so anxious for this to happen. Everything that's happened hasn't just come from my work. It's the entire team working together. I'm really privileged to have dedicated teammates."
Last year, the fledgling team drew a huge response by earning a bout at the 2010 Brigade Boxing Open. It featured a bloody battle between two plebes, Cadets Sarah Pendergraft and Brandi-el Cook.
Today, the two Class of 2013 cadets, along with Camacho and Class of 2012 Cadet Ariel Espinoza-Levy, are the team's veterans. Pendergraft may have left the BBO with nose battered and bloodied, but she emerged a year later victorious in her next bout with a second round technical knockout.
"We're a really young team starting out, but I think it makes it better because by the time we're firsties we'll be able to show the new plebes how to do things," Camacho said.
Team tryouts were held in January, immediately after receiving hobby club status. Head coach Bobbi Scroggin said word must have leaked that she was a former boxer who went All-Army during her active-duty career. First she was emailed by Espinoza-Levy to help her train and, soon afterward, another request from Camacho followed asking Scroggin to assist the team.
"We didn't do a lot of boxing at tryouts. We wanted to see who could handle the indoor obstacle course instead to test endurance," Scroggin said.
Interviews were also conducted by the team captain and officers-in-charge to whittle down a pool of more than 30 cadets into a 12-member roster. Scroggin said she's modeled the training regimen partially from what she received from the All-Army Team and is getting no complaints from the cadets.
"They're willing to do everything I ask without hesitation. No questions asked," Scroggin said. "They're very dedicated and extremely hard workers."
The cadets conduct a lot of cardio work-team runs and stair-climbing-to maintain stamina. Workouts also incorporate weight training as well as military instruction.
"We work together as a team to improve APFT (Army Physical Fitness Test) scores and we run the IOCT (indoor obstacle course) once a week," Camacho said.
On Wednesdays they spar, shadow box and train on the heavy bags. Individual instruction focuses on the different styles each boxer has developed with Scroggin, Jay Salzman and assistant coach Yearling Timothy Cody. The officers-in-charge for the team are Capt. Rick Wertz and Maj. Jackie Escobar, a Class of 2002 graduate and former team captain of the West Point Martial Arts Team.
"I know it's hard to go to school all day, study and then come here, but they've showed me nothing but hard work," Scroggin said. "It's a long day and we're here until almost nine (at night), but they throw every punch with a lot of power, so I'm very happy for the team and they're progressing really well."
A lot of support has been garnered through the team's website (www.westpointwomensboxing.org) and Facebook page, where message boards have archived the congratulatory posts about the team's groundbreaking efforts.
"It feels great. Having the support that we do really allows our club to flourish," Camacho said. "The more support we get the better. We're hoping everything works out for this team."
The team was formed in January as the academy's newest hobby club and will remain as such for a year before a review by the Department of Physical Education can determine if they are qualified for competitive club status.
The team will make their West Point debut during the National Collegiate Boxing Association Championships starting 7:30 p.m. Friday in Arvin Cadet Physical Development Center's North End Boxing Room.
Among the West Point cadets slated to fight against other East Coast collegiate boxers are Cook, Espinoza-Levy, Camacho and Plebe Kelsey Smith.
"We're really excited about this, and we want to see the support come from the Corps (of Cadets)," Camacho said.