On the first day of fall practice, Columbus High volleyball took practice outside Monday morning going through a Marine Corps combat fitness test at Columbus Middle School.
The players went through a series of physical exercises that a Marine would have to pass and meet a certain benchmark in their program. Discoverer’s head coach Jeri Otten said she found out about the program by email and saw other teams had done it in the past. It was the first time the Discoverer volleyball team did a team-building exercise like this.
“Teamwork concept was what I was hoping for and that’s exactly what we got,” Otten said. “For them to just kind of hear and define leadership themselves to hopefully inspire them and see what they’ll now bring to our team. That’s really just going to help us grow and help each other grow just as teammates and people.”
For some of the players, they entered Monday morning’s workout not knowing what to expect. A mix of nerves and excitement ended with the team having fun supporting and competing against each other.
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“Coming into it, it was scary because we didn’t know what to expect, but I really thought it was fun,” Discoverer outside hitter Lauryn Nitz said.
Otten said it was great to see the players battle through the tough course and push themselves to finish.
“I know we had a couple freshmen in particular they were not even halfway through part of the combat training portion with the ammo carries (and were ready to give) up (but) then they made it all the way to the end and back and finished,” Otten said. “I know they didn’t think they could do it, but their teammates cheered them on and pushed through past what they thought they could do.”
After a brief warm-up, the team split up into two groups and sprinted two laps around the track. Following that, the Discoverers tested their strength by lifting ammunition cans over their heads for two minutes.
The combat fitness test ended with a maneuver around a fire course. In teams of two, the players started with a low crawl known as a J-hook. The next stage was a bear crawl followed by running zig-zags around cones.
With their teammate seated on the field, the runner would drag the “wounded” teammate before lifting them and carrying them down the length of the field.
Once they got back to the start, the Discoverers carried two ammo cans down the length of the field. After that, each player threw a yellow ball representing a grenade and then doing five push-ups. The test ended with carrying the two ammo cans back to the start.
Columbus middle blocker Ellie Thompson said she felt at the end of the training the team came together.
“It was definitely very challenging, but it definitely pushed ourselves and got through it,” Discoverer Olivya Thege said.
At the end of the fitness test, the Discoverers listened to Sgt. Jose Torres talks about leadership with the players allowed to ask any questions. Otten said she hopes her team takes away that they can push themselves harder and they can push their teammates to be better players.
For senior setter Jess Larson, her favorite part of the experience was supporting her teammates.
“Just cheering on other people after you’re done because you’re relieved because you’re done, but then you’re helping them get through it,” Larson said.
For the veterans on the team, the combat training was a nice change of pace as they began practices on the hardwood.
“It was really cool,” Larson said. “We started off different, so I feel like it will really push us through two-a-days. It started off fun.”
Otten said it was nice for the players to also hear a different voice.
“I think it’s great to bring these gentlemen in just to hear a different perspective in their stories,” she said. “That was kind of the main points and to just push them a little bit physically as well. It was just great to see that experience and see how they could be pushed by a different person, different voice.”
Sam Ficarro is a sports reporter with The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.