The North Forsyth JROTC program now has a new set of trophies to put on the shelf after Raider National Championships that took place in south Georgia over the weekend.
Raider Challenge, a JROTC sporting competition, pits teams of cadets against one another in a series of high intensity time trial events where teams run up and down mountains, cross rivers on ropes and work together to carry or move heavy objects.
According to Gunnery Sgt. Jack Snook, Marine instructor at North Forsyth High School, this is the first year that female teams have been allowed to compete at the national event, and the North Forsyth Raider Challenge Team was able to sweep the competition, earning first and second in the majority of events, eventually placing first in the nation.
Snook said that for years he has been lobbying the national event to allow a female division, wanting those cadets to receive recognition for their hard work, and finally enough was enough.
“Last year was sad because I had a really, really good female team, and I just told the sports network people that, ‘I’m not going to come anymore if females can’t compete,’” Snook said. “So I lobbied and lobbied and lobbied and so they finally said, ‘OK, were going to open it up this year to see how it works.’”
In the end, Snook said that nine female teams from around the country competed at the national event, which he said was huge for the sport.
“They were only expecting one or two and now it’s only going to grow once schools across the country see that female teams can compete,” he said.
After returning home from the event several of the members on Snook’s female team expressed their happiness with the outcome, stating that the team had worked hard and earned its wins.
“It went amazing; our team was literally just so inspirational,” said Mary Kassalen, a junior. “This was my second year on Raider Team and last year was a great year, all the girls worked together but this year it was more connected ... That helped us in the long run for winning.”
North Forsyth sophomore Andrea Adams said that even though this is the end of their season, they are already ready to start training again for next year.
“Ever since August, and even in July before school started, we have been doing conditioning,” Adams said. “And I really like our team, our group of females are really strong ... I feel like you can really fit in and you have people to talk to.”
Both Adams and Kassalen agreed that of the weekend’s events, the rope bridge, an event where teams try to get from one side of a river to the other by crossing a rope, was their favorite of the competition, citing its difficulty and action.
“We got to figure out how to work and do it on an actual tree,” Kassalen said. “And it was across a river, so that made everyone more excited and more pumped up to do well on it.”
Snook said that beyond his female team that took the weekend’s honors, the male and co-ed teams from North Forsyth also competed well, taking fifth places among harsh competition from national military schools in attendance.
He said that even the weather down in Molena was perfect for the activities.
“It rained the entire time we were there, which even made it better; that’s the way it should be,” Snook said. “It wasn’t really hot, the weather was perfect ... it made the course muddier, the kids were just covered head to toe in mud, and they enjoyed it.”