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Army 1: You’re in the ROTC now! Trying to be all that she can be

February 28th, 2011 Posted in Arts and Life

By Natasha Bodily

LOGAN—Initially, I was very nervous to join the Army ROTC. I’m not entirely sure which aspects of the Army I was most afraid of, but I certainly procrastinated starting the classes. I knew once I began, I would need to be committed and I was not sure if I was ready.

Being a bit compulsive, I wanted to know my health status before I began the physical training class, and got a physical so I’d have a reference point between now and the end of the semester. According to the doc, I am in great health. Go, me.

My blood pressure, pulse, BMI and even blood-sugar levels were all normal and healthy. The doc advised me to take my new Army exercise regimen slowly because of my exercise-induced asthma.

Waking up early was one of the more daunting tasks I knew I would need to accomplish as part of ROTC. I have a hard time sleeping and usually take a benadryl and melatonin cocktail before bed to knock me out.

My roommate can attest to my talent for getting ready in approximately 2 minutes every morning—I generally wake up around 8:15 a.m. for my 8:30 class. The idea of 5:30 a.m. terrified me. Still does.

I went to my first Army PT class this morning after about five or six hours of sleep. For a Monday, I was impressed that I could even open my eyes that early. I will admit I slept in the Army gym shirt I had been given so I could skip the extra step of dressing in the morning.

I arrived outside the Fieldhouse about 5 minutes early and found properly uniformed ROTC students and staff waiting for the doors to open. Being a female, I stuck out right away, although I later noticed two other girls inside. In addition to my gender, I did not have the uniformed sweat outfit, and with my scared puppydog face, I would reasonably say I did not fit in.

The doors opened and everyone jogged to the far side of the track with their bags and extra clothes. I learned I needed to tuck in my Army-issued t-shirt into the black shorts. I was also informed my hair needed to be in a bun and I was wearing improper socks. My ankles were showing.

Everyone began splitting into groups, which I later learned were organized based on PT skill level.

1st Lt. Patrick Barrington, the ROTC admissions officer, and another lieutenant led me to a group to stretch out before I took my diagnostic PT test: sit-ups, push-ups and a 2-mile run.

You would think that I would have prepared for this test, but that would be incorrect. After several efforts, I completed a grand total of zero push-ups. That’s right—I am currently incapable of accomplishing even a single push-up. This realization was not embarrassing at all. Eventually, as a 20-year-old female cadet, I will need to complete a minimum of 19 push-ups.

After that semi-humiliating moment, we moved on to the sit-ups. To pass, my goal is 53. This task, though easier, was still difficult. I failed by 10 sit-ups, but at least I was moving the whole time.

Finally, I needed to run 2 miles in 18 minutes or less. I was privately concerned about this last task because I had left my inhaler on my bedside table. Thanks to the cheers of Cadet Nate Whitmore and other students, I felt very motivated to keep going on my run. I finished in 16 minutes and 20 seconds, and did not have an asthma attack. I call this a success.

I had never felt so supported in exercise. They cheered as I passed on each lap. Several others runners on the track encouraged me and helped me maintain my pace. On the last few laps, one student kept pace with me and continually motivated me to maintain my speed to the finish.

We finished up with some stretches and, on my way to get some water, I ran into one of my best friends, Andrew. I have not told a lot of my friends about my surprising decision to join the military.

“Tasha? Are you joining the ROTC?” Andrew asked, with the inflection of someone discovering an unexpected pregnancy.

Was doing it to get money for school? I told him you have to pass certain requirements first.

A few minutes later, I saw my ex, who apparently is training for the Air Force.

“The uniform looks good on you,” he said as he headed into the restroom. Later, he texted, wondering about my new involvement with the Army. He asked if I was thinking of joining or just seeing what it was like, concluding that it was “pretty cool.”

I have a long way to go before I can even qualify for a contract and I know it will be difficult dealing with my friends’ reactions.

So far I have been very impressed by the support and acceptance I have encountered from the members of USU’s Army ROTC.

Go Army! Go me!


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