High school athletes train with Marines

High school athletes train with Marines

Mollie Sorenson, varsity softball player for West Ranch High School pushes to get her last ammunition can lifts in before time ran out at the West Ranch High School, Oct. 1. Athletes from the schools softball and baseball teams participated in a Combat Fitness Challenge which was ran by the United States Marine Corps. Photo by LCpl Tyler Viglione.

Santa Clarita, Calif. (Oct. 18, 2013) - Marines are tested yearly on their physical abilities to react in combat situations. For Davis Lebaron and his baseball team, they had the opportunity to be tested at the Marine Corps level.

About 80 athletes of West Ranch High School dropped their bats and picked up ammunition cans to participate in the Marine Corps Combat Fitness Challenge in Santa Clarita, Calif., Oct. 1.

The Combat Fitness Challenge was meant to test the physical and mental strengths of these students. The event was intended to replicate the Marine Corps Combat Fitness Test that Marines run every year. The CFT is broken down into three parts: Maneuver under fire, ammunition can lift, and an 880-meter movement to fire sprint.

"We took August and September trying to get our boys and our girls here on the baseball and softball team in top physical shape with the idea that this was kind of coming, and yet they're still finding it very challenging," said Casey Burrill, baseball coach at West Ranch High School.

Burrill attended the Marine Corps Educators Workshop where he visited the Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego and experienced recruit training by participating in events such as the CFT. Burrill's experiences led him to ask local Marine recruiters from Recruiting Station Los Angeles to come to the school and teach the students some of the things he learned.

"We (Marines) came up today to teach these students mental toughness, physical toughness, team work and camaraderie," said Maj Dominique Neal, Commanding Officer, RS Los Angeles.

The athletes were split into three platoons and treated like Marines rather than students.

The platoons of students rotated through the stations. The toughest event was the maneuver-under-fire, which simulates combat-related tasks such as carries, ammunition resupply, grenade throwing, crawls, and agility running.

"I came here today expecting a really hard work out," said Lebaron, Varsity baseball player for West Ranch High School. "It wasn't as much of a screaming and yelling experience as I thought but more of a learning experience."

The Marines taught them about teamwork and how to push themselves when they are past the point of exhaustion. 

"We put these high school students through what we do every year," said Neal. "I think by doing a CFT you learn a little bit about yourself, and learn a little bit about your teammate."

At the end of the day the Marines noticed the students, tired and sore, came together as one. Even though these students will not face combat, they will use what they learned on the baseball field.

"I want to thank the Marines for doing all of this. I know it takes a lot of work and it's a good thing for us as a team to bond together and learn these leadership traits and teamwork skills," said Lebaron, a native of Santa Clarita, Calif.

Marines.mil is the official website of the United States Marine Corps and is maintained by the Marine Corps' Division of Public Affairs.