In their fourth year of competing at McKinney High School’s McKinney Lions Challenge, the Allen High Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) finished second for the first time. In their previous three attempts, they placed first.
But as Master Sergeant David Robinson is quick to point out, these marathons of strength and endurance are about much more than who is the strongest or fastest.
“I’m getting them ready for whatever endeavor they do in life,” he said. “We get these kids ready for if they decide to go into the civilian sector, decide to go into the military, decide to go to college, we try to give them a work ethic and a fighting spirit and go through and achieve whatever they want to achieve.”
The Lions Challenge is just one way their commanders instill perseverance and character into their cadets. It is no small feat for two people to carry someone on a stretcher for 400 meters around a track, or compete in a 1,600-meter relay while carrying 10-pound ammunition cans.
“It’s a grueling event. When you get done with that, it tells you something about yourself,” Robinson said.
Other events included a fireman’s carry, tug-of-war, tire flips, a timed crunch competition, pull-ups, sit-ups, a circuit course that features a 150-pound sled push, uphill climb and buddy drag.
“We got a saying: Through pain comes discipline,” Robinson said. “When you go through these events, you also become tighter as a group.”
Allen placed first in the 1,600-meter relay, first in the tug-of-war flyweight division, second in pull-ups, second in crunches and third place in the circuit course.
“There’s nothing better than competition to see where you stand among your peers,” Robinson said.