Parkersburg, W. Va. --
The Parkersburg High School football team, known as “The Big Reds” received a boost after they received a visit from the Marines during a leadership seminar conducted June 20 at Parkersburg High School in Parkersburg, West Virginia.
The seminar, conducted by Marines from Recruiting Station Charleston, consisted of a morning classroom portion, followed by a physical training circuit course in the afternoon, which consisted of such events as kettle bell swings, tire flips and fireman’s carry runs.
Parkersburg High is one of the largest high schools in West Virginia, and Don Reeves, the head football coach, was receptive to the idea of having his players learn from the Marines.
“We (the coaches) talked about things we need to work on as a team and two of those areas are mental toughness and team commitment,” said Reeves. “We can teach them the technique, but the Marines have the type of attitude we are looking for and we are out here to learn those types of things that will benefit us on a Friday night. We would like to build that team camaraderie the Marines have.”
The first portion of the seminar was in the classroom, where the Marines gave guided discussions on topics such as leadership and team work, often drawing comparisons between being on a football team and being part of a Marine Corps unit. At various points the Marines would have the players break into small groups where they would discuss each class with a Marine participating and guiding the discussion.
Quarterback Josh Tremely said the class discussion was useful for himself and his teammates.
“A lot of times football players are known for just being physical and hitting people, but a lot of people don’t realize how important the classroom is,” said Tremely. “I really like the emphasis of trust and integrity. We all have to trust each other on the field and have the integrity to have each other’s back.” After the class, the Marines conducted the physical portion of the seminar. Remaining in their six-man discussion groups, the players had to go through the circuit course in the humid summer heat. Many of the course events were team orientated, such as having objects of different weight the players took turns carrying, or items such as tires, which were too heavy for one individual to maneuver alone. Each group was timed, putting them into competition with other groups, and no player was allowed to advance until every participant in their group had completed the event.
For Reeves, this was a good chance to evaluate his players.
“As coaches, we watch and see who becomes the leaders and who comes back and helps others when things get tough,” said Reeves. “In the long run those leaders will be our team captains.”
Maj. Gabriel L. Diana, the commanding officer of RS Charleston, said he could see the effect the Marines had on the team.
“I’m starting to see these young men display these leadership traits and principles we taught them in the classroom,” said Diana. “I’m seeing a lot of heart and dedication and hard work towards their goals of winning a state championship.”