By Wallace McBride, Fort Jackson LeaderDecember 13, 2012
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- The 1st Battalion 61st Infantry Regiment "Roadrunners" became the first Basic Combat Training unit on Fort Jackson to win the coveted Commander's Cup, which is presented each year to the unit that accumulates the most points during the sports season.
The award was given to the unit during the 10th annual Fort Jackson Sports Banquet Tuesday at the Solomon Center.
"They worked hard and sent someone to every event," said Cindi Keene, Fort Jackson sports coordinator. "With 1-61st winning this cup, it's given all of the other Basic Combat Training units something to shoot for, because it can be done."
"We just tried to spread the wealth and participate in all of the events," said Sgt. 1st Class Maria Hurrera, a 1-61st coach. "We came together as a team and represented 1-61. That's how we were able to win the commander's points."
The 1-61st was represented at all of the sporting events this year, which Keene said was key in accumulating the number of points it took to win this year's cup.
"It was all about participation, giving our drill sergeants and Soldiers assigned to us the time to participate in all of the events," said Capt. Richard Dunham, a 1-61st coach. "It gave us the points to go to come away with the win."
The guest speaker for the event was Frank Martin, men's basketball coach for the University of South Carolina, who spoke to Soldiers about the unexpected benefits of athletics.
"My high school coach had a saying, and that was, 'The weight room don't lie,'" he said. "If you don't have substance, if you're not willing to push yourself to extremes, you're not going to last in that weight room. That weight room is going to push you out. That confidence you get by being physically fit, by being part of a team, has allowed me to get to a place where I can share that with kids I come across in my life."
For the Roadrunners, participating in this year's athletic events took a great deal of coordination just to get Soldiers to the games. In previous years, it wasn't a foregone conclusion that a Basic Combat Training unit would have the time to participate in any event, let alone all of them.
"What's unique about the Basic Combat Training Battalion competing in -- and winning -- the general's trophy, is that we were able to work together and free up the athletes to compete in the different sports competitions," said Lt. Col. Tony Gianopulos, 1-61st commander. "As we freed up more personnel to compete, the drill sergeants pulled additional duties and overtime to cover the Soldiers while providing the same quality training while we competed on the installation."
He said it's possible the Roadrunners' win will inspire other Basic Combat Training units to aggressively participate in sport events on post next year.
"I think everybody has the same chance," he said. "But the key is to coordinate with one another, and to support one another."