For nearly 60 high school football players, Thursday, Aug. 27 was no ordinary after school practice session. As they took to the field without their pads and helmets, they were greeted by local Marines instead of their coaches.
The Bassett Bengals varsity and junior varsity teams both took part in the Marine Corps’ Combat Fitness Test, a rigorous test of strength, endurance and agility, all in one.
The CFT is an annual assessment used to keep Marines ready for the physical rigors of contemporary combat operations. Individual readiness is measured by requiring Marines in their camouflage uniform to sprint 880 yards, lift a 30-pound ammunition can overhead from shoulder height repeatedly for two minutes, and perform a maneuver-under-fire event, which is a timed 300-yard shuttle run in which Marines are paired up by size and perform a series of combat-related tasks.
Bassett’s football players were in shorts and t-shirts, but the strenuous exercise was unlike anything they’d undertaken before.
“I’ve never been challenged to this extent,” said Diaquice Spencer, a Bassett native senior who plays safety. “It’s a great resource to see what the real world is like.”
The challenge put the players to the test as Marines and coaches watched.
“You can see who did, and who didn’t do anything in the off-season,” said varsity coach Jay Joyce, a native of Greenville, NC. “The times don’t lie. It’s great conditioning for the guys.”
For the Marines, it was an opportunity to show the players some of the physical events Marines undergo and what sets Marines apart from the other services.
“It was our chance to show them the physical prowess Marines are known for and how we train,” said Staff Sgt. Bryan Pfeiffer, the local Marine recruiter. “We challenged them, and they stepped up.”
The players, tired from the physical exertion, walked away with a few lessons learned.
“It taught me to be more competitive, since everyone out there was trying to be the best,” said Spencer. “I’d recommend this challenge to anyone who wants to push themselves to be great.”
The staff at Bassett High School was appreciative of the training.
“I wish you guys could come back every day,” said Ron Proffitt, the school’s assistant principal and athletic director. “This is exactly what these guys need.”