The Washington and Lee men's and women's lacrosse teams got a taste of how the Marine Corps trains its members for combat in a special session on Wilson Field this past Monday, Sept. 30.
Marines from the Officer Selection Station in Roanoke came to campus to run several of the exercises from the Marine Corps' CFT, or combat fitness test — the 880 sprint, ammo-can lifts and the maneuver-under-fire course.
"We figured it would be a fun change of pace for our student-athletes, not only to do a fitness session in a different way than normal but also to have our teams working together and competing throughout the events," said W&L women's coach Brooke Diamond O'Brien.
The idea to bring the Marines to campus was floated by Connor Smithson, a member of the Class of 2013 and a former lacrosse player and wrestler who was commissioned in the Marine Corps in May.
"Connor approached Gene and me with the idea this summer," Brooke said. "He was one of the Marines who came on Monday to run the event with us. The team definitely got a full-body workout from the event."
Added Gene, the W&L men's lacrosse coach: "Our guys found it tough but a lot of fun. We were very appreciative of the energy and enthusiasm put forth by Capt. Nicholas Harwood and his group of Marines."
Before they sent the players through their paces, the Marines showed them how to do the CFT, plus the proper techniques for the fireman's carry, buddy draft and low crawl.
"Our team learned to push themselves individually and to work together with their partner, particularly during the fireman’s-carry portion of the course," said Brooke. "It was also important for our women to push themselves to be their best and not to hesitate to compete with the men. As I told them before we took part in the event, they will be working with and competing with men for jobs and promotions the remainder of their lives. They need to be comfortable doing so."
In a story about the event posted on the Marine Corps website, Becca Dean, a sophomore from Ellicott City, Md., said that the event brought the team together. "It showed me that I can do things I didn't think I could do, like beat the boys," Becca told the writer.
Aside from the physical fitness aspect, the players and coaches cited benefits of having the two teams work together.
"I think there is a mutual respect amongst our men's and women's teams," Gene said. "And the opportunity for us to collaborate on an opportunity like this was not only beneficial for our student athletes but representative of our values here at W&L."