We know the drill: Cadets take
national championship © March 12, 2007 Norwich University Office of Communications
Who says winning is half the battle? Not the Norwich University Regimental Men’s Drill Team. Since their inception four years ago, the team has placed first as the best overall drill team at Cornell University’s Invitational Drill Competition, held annually each November in Ithaca, N.Y. But the real topper was when they returned to the Southern California Invitational Drill Meet (SCDIM) and bested 129 teams from roughly sixty-competing schools, placing first in the Best Overall category for a second year in a row.
Once again, drill team advisor/director Sgt. Maj. Max McIntyre, gathered his troops—eighteen of The Hill’s finest gun-spinning cadets for the SCDIM, held March 3, 2007, in Huntington Beach State Park in Huntington Beach, Calif.
Beating a lot of the major players such as West Point, UPENN, Cornell, and Tulane, the cadets returned to Northfield with several other admirable wins to add to the team's resumé. The squad placed first in both Regulation and Platoon Trick Exhibition and second in The Four Man Trick Exhibition and in Inspection.
However, even with all these victories, the team still doesn’t feel there’s an opportunity to loosen their belts and get comfortable in their title as the nation’s overall best team two years running. “Preparation is key (to the win). So is team unity—we are pretty tight,” said drill team member, senior John Young.
It isn’t a free ride to the top, though. While the team is one of the Corps of Cadets highly decorated special units, they rely on outside finances to cover competition expenses. “Donations, budget, fundraising, begging, and alums feeding us while we were out there,” McIntyre said, is the key to getting the team to competition.
And it sure isn’t an easy ride either. Making the competing team not only requires an in-depth knowledge of drill, but “to make the competing team you have to know the entire routine, which has only a few verbal commands over eight minutes,” Young said.
“It’s pretty stressful,” junior Cadet Chris Comeau said of competition. “Especially on the West Coast. They grade you harsher and yell more. They try to make you break but it takes a lot of practice not to make those mistakes and stumble over yourself. And it takes a lot of discipline.” Additionally, Comeau noted the added stress of “having to compete against every one else on the team,” just to secure a spot on the competing squad.
Being able to handle stress comes with the territory, though. “It’s stressful up until you start,” said Young, “then it just flows.”