The Norwich Record - Summer 2023 Cover Image

Norwich revitalizes its historic rifle team with overwhelming support, including a shooting range with Norwich roots

NORWICH RECORD | Summer 2023

Norwich University was in crisis because of the COVID-19 pandemic when President Mark Anarumo began his tenure in summer 2020. Although he had many high-priority objectives on his list, one stood out, even during a worldwide pandemic. He wanted to reestablish the Norwich rifle team, which had laid dormant for nearly two decades.

While some might not have anticipated that a team of marksmen would be such a high priority, especially amid a pandemic, Anarumo always wanted to bring it back. “There are certain things I know a senior military college should have, and one of them is a competitive shooting team,” he said. For him, it was an issue of identity. The team’s history at Norwich dates to 1915 and has been intermittently offered over the last century.

“We wanted to reestablish the foundation of our great heritage and history,” he said. “We want to be very clear about who we are. We are the original senior military college, and our rich heritage includes the concept of the citizen-soldier, the birthplace of ROTC.”

It would take some time to get rolling, considering the immediate threat of COVID, but eventually, things began to fall into place hardly a year later. In summer 2021, Anarumo was enjoying meeting new students and their families during a student sendoff in Virginia when he mentioned that the university would be working on bringing the shooting team back to the school. One of the future Cadets in the crowd was Jasmin Mann ’25, and his comment about the rifle team immediately caught her ear.

Mann was not only a future Cadet but a competitive marksman herself who had spent the past four years competing through her high school Marine Corps JROTC program, where her father was her coach. She was thrilled to learn that the sport would be returning. “Since I shot in high school and we didn’t have a team at Norwich, I wanted to have an opportunity to continue and for others to have the opportunity as well,” she said.

As the crowd started to dwindle and the soon-to-be Norwich students and their families were milling about, she kept her eye on Anarumo. She noticed that he had just finished a conversation, jumped at the chance to introduce herself, and asked about the rifle team, “How might we get that started again?”

“I told her to focus on coming to Norwich and being a Rook, and when the time is right, let’s continue this conversation,” said Anarumo, knowing the challenges that await Rooks once they arrive in Northfield. They exchanged contact information and planned on reconvening.

Time flew for Mann once she arrived on campus and entered Rookdom. As the early months passed, it was finally time for the traditional Rook picnic at Abare Farm.

Anarumo joined the Rooks on their day out, although he tried to keep a low profile and let the Cadets enjoy their rare time away from campus. “I was trying to give them time to enjoy themselves and not worry about spending time with anyone, let alone the president,” he said.

“It just had gotten to be a line of coincidences and meetings that just made it scream that we had to do this.”

Anarumo found himself shooting trap alongside a Norwich alum, Mike Hourigan ’85. Unbeknownst to the new president, Hourigan is a competitive shooter and former coach of the Norwich rifle team, where he was at the helm from 1987 to 2000. As they were shooting, their meandering conversation made its way to competitive marksmanship.

“We were just small talking and started talking about bringing the rifle team back,” said Anarumo. “I told him that we were going to get it done, and he said he wanted to help us reestablish it.

The day wore on, and Mann bumped into Anarumo on the farm. “I ran into him there, and I hadn’t seen him since the sendoff because I was so wrapped up in Rookdom,” she said. Naturally, their conversation turned to bring the rifle team back to Norwich.

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