Southern Miss’ men’s tennis team traveled to Camp Shelby with the university’s Army ROTC cadets for team building exercises in the early morning of Saturday, Oct. 27.
The team used a leadership course the ROTC cadets practice frequently. The idea of the course is to make the team overcome a stressful environment together.
Each course consisted of a scenario the team must accomplish in an allotted time such as climbing over a wall, using planks to cross a pool of water or carrying each other over certain obstacles. The ROTC cadets performed one course so the team could observe what they were expected to accomplish. Professor of Military Science Joseph Swindle works with the ROTC cadets and was excited to see the tennis team work together through the same courses.
“The cadets have been practicing this for a while, so they will make it look easy while it will challenge the tennis team to work together,” Swindle said.
The tennis team quickly realized how difficult the courses would be and had to rely on each other’s leadership and strengths to overcome the obstacles.
Each of the seven players come from different countries: India, Switzerland, Poland, Ecuador, Indonesia, Thailand and Taiwan. Head Coach Zubin Engineer said the course taught the team how to support each other.
“Today is a good experience for the team,” Engineer said. “It helps them to see their own and everyone else’s strengths and utilize that to build each other up. They find out who they really are and dig deeper into working together as a team. Each player is from a different culture and home, and they understand that. They work great as a team.”
The ROTC cadets showed the players the importance of communication and teamwork. Each course had a designated leader to facilitate the team. Each person has a different strength and the tennis team used that to problem solve.
International Business major Tom Cecchetto is an international student from Switzerland and expressed how important the leadership course was.
“Being here today helps us to bond together more than we already are. It is teaching us and giving us the capabilities to lead, and it shows the teams chemistry on and off the tennis court,” Cecchetto said.
The ROTC explained to the team how important working together and knowing each other is when in the field. The ROTC experiences different leadership courses to prepare them for more real-life situations.
“Last summer the cadets did something similar to this exercise at Fort Knox,” Swindle said. “It is called a Field Leadership Course where they camped in the woods and experienced scenario-based courses like loading wounded into a helicopter. They were assessed and graded on their leadership and teamwork.”
Overall, the day was counted as a success with the tennis team ready to return to the court with a deeper understanding and appreciation of their teammates.