Purchase photos

Fitness. Strength. Pride.

7/17/2014

By JUDY SHERARD

By JUDY SHERARD

jsherard@dailynews.net

The Marines put Hays High School athletes to the test Wednesday morning. The combat fitness test, that is.

Seven Marines based in Hays, Salina and Kansas City prepared the course and provided leadership as approximately 70 members of the football team went through the paces.

Hays High female athletes also took the test.

Hays Marine recruiter Staff Sgt. Nicholas McCulloch organized the event as a way to build community relations.

It illustrates "that good leadership example that the Marine Corps is expected to promote in the community."

The test has three segments -- movement to contact, an 800-meter run; the 30-pound ammo can lift designed to ensure Marines can load ammo into trucks; and maneuver under fire, which includes the fireman's carry.

While most of the team watched and cheered, head coach Bo Black took a turn at the ammo can lift.

"If there's any group of people Americans trust, it'd be the Marines, to put the kids in their hands," Black said. "It's a great opportunity for our kids to do something different, (and) get input from some different people that also want to see them be successful."

"It's really tough," said Dalton Stout, a junior fullback. "It's really fun to see what the Marines go through compared to what we do."

"It was tough but fun," said Grant Coffman, a sophomore center and member of the defensive line. "You have to push yourself."

The Marines are a symbol of fitness and toughness, said Allan Amrein, assistant football coach.

"I think it's good that the kids are exposed to different kinds of training, whatever it is."

When it comes to conditioning and working out, "it's good that the kids see some other examples that it's not just in athletics, it's in other realms," Amrein said.

The test promotes camaraderie and teamwork, and coaches and teammates cheered one another to complete each task.

"Not every player can be on the field all the time," McCulloch said. "One of the hallmarks of teamwork is not letting down your teammate to the left or to the right. That's what it means to be part of a team. You don't quit on yourself, and you don't quit on your teammates."

"It takes everybody. It takes every chain link," Black said.

The test measures mental and physical fitness, McCulloch said.

It's a "benchmark used to test a Marine's physical fitness to ensure that they're prepared for the rigors of combat and to continue their service in the Marine Corps."

"If you don't like your character, attitude or reputation, you might as well get rid of it, turn it in, exchange it," Sgt. Maj. Johnny Hughes told the team. "You gotta want to be part of the best. That's what we are as the Marines, plain and simple. There's a reason why we're called the few. There's a reason why we're called the proud. We strive on leadership."