By DrillMaster Guest Writer: C/CSM Daira M. Padilla
Charles H. Milby High School JROTC 4th BN
It’s 4:00 in the afternoon, drill team practice started at 3:30, “can we get a water break?” asks one of the drill team members. “You sure can…NOT!” states the commander. The Charles H. Milby High School drill teams have an upcoming competition, the goal: BE CHAMPIONS.
There was a move, our original school building is getting renovated, for that reason we had to temporary move to another building, with this move we lost about 40% of our school population, and with that loss we also lost drill team members. Recruiting was the first option, “we’ll recruit and get enough people”. Didn’t happen. Yes we recruited people, however not enough to fulfill the requirement of 13 people for exhibition drill. But who said that was going to stop us? Just the year before we were the only school in our district, the only school in our city to attend the National High School Drill Team Championship in Daytona Beach, Florida. We attended and we placed, being national champions, a lack of people is not a problem. People told us we couldn’t do it, our school is not necessarily the wealthiest, we didn’t have a fancy drill deck, we practiced in the student parking lot.
Practice is one of the greatest things when it comes to being on the drill team. However to get to the level of “practice” it takes that moment when you ask yourself if you really want it, if you want it from the heart, if it’s your passion. If you answer “no” to any of those, then drill team is not for you. Practice, it is such a simple word isn’t it? Well PRACTICE is not simple, not easy, but it sure is the best. Hot sunny days when you have to take off your shirt and just leave a muscle shirt on, seeing the sweat roll down your eyebrow as you stand at attention, feeling your hands sweaty and nasty, begging for the time to come when we get that break to drink that well-earned ice-cold water bottle. Then there’s the cold days, having to put on your hoodie with a wind breaker on top, wearing extra socks, ear warmers and everything you can to prevent you from freezing.
Practice doesn’t mean hanging around, it means making the best out of every second, blisters, bruises from the weapon or from doing unarmed drill moves. Practice means, “we need to get on sync or we need to go home”. Getting those thirty-inch steps right and that 45-degree angle perfected. Practice means we are aiming for perfect. Still the one goal: BE CHAMPIONS.
Now competition is another of the best parts of being on the drill team. “As soon as you get off of the bus, you are to carry yourself as champions, march with your head held high and DO NOT look around”, words that have been passed on by Milby JROTC drill team commanders to the team members as they exit the bus for competition.
The inspection phase comes first. There is nothing like intensity of a drill sergeant screaming at you while you stand at attention, the sarcasm in his questions thinking he will break your bearing. Little does he know, you have been preparing for this moment longer than he thinks. However it is not just that, it’s your uniform being perfectly ironed, those straps that itch but make you look good, it’s the whole day you took to fix your uniform and last but not least, the weeks you studied a packet of questions to only get asked 3. But the main thing is FOCUS and CONFIDENCE, if you have those two, it will not matter that your “enemy” school is looking at you as you get inspected, because you know that you are making them intimidated. It’s just 7 minutes long and those 7 minutes are the most intense in your whole lifetime.
Regulation phase is the second phase of competition most of the time, here is when every marching detail counts, perfection in 30 inch steps, alignment while marching, looking straight ahead at all times, making sure you don’t step out of the boundaries, the intensity of regulation drill is the best intensity you can feel. My first year on the drill team I had two goals only, to take the commander position for the upcoming year and to be better than my then-current commander. This year I am the regulation commander and I got first place over all commanders of my district. As I said before, if you have focus and motivation you will get anything you want.
Yeah, I bet as you read that you remembered the ripple line moves you and you team were working on. Exhibition is almost as it sounds, exciting! Whether you are tossing a Quad or a Rising Sun with your weapon, a mock weapon or demil, or you are slapping your legs and arms or stomping your feet for an unarmed sequence, all of it is exciting, without a doubt you will end up begging for a drink. But we all know that in the end, the counts, memorizing the sequence and perfecting synchronization will ALL be worth it.
The competitive level of military drill is expressed in one word: INTENSE. In the end when the results come in and you realize how you’ve done, the happiness is extreme when you find out you placed, but it doesn’t stop there, it shouldn’t stop there. You are to always strive to make yourself and your team better. Drill is a hobby in high school, it will pay you, either indirectly by the life lessons you have learned, or directly: there are those who have gone on to the ever-emerging post-high school, professional level. You, keep doing what you love, KEEP DRILLING!