ST. CLOUD, Minn. --
ST. CLOUD, Minn.— Marines have always shared a special bond with wrestlers. Their values of dedication, hard work and perseverance make for a perfect partnership. The Officer Selection Team from Fargo, North Dakota, demonstrated to the St. Cloud State University Wrestling Team how implementing these values at practices can improve their team during a Leadership and Cohesion Exercise, Sept. 18, 2018.
“We do these events because we are able to take our Marine Corps leadership model, how we train, and fit it into a college atmosphere,” said Capt. Kyle Randow, the Officer Selection Officer in Fargo. “We take them out of their comfort zone and then they can go back and fit how we train and practice into their daily routine.”
The Marines pushed the athletes through a series of physical exercises, such as buddy carries, burpees and sprints, designed to test their mental strength and force them to push each other as a team.
“I really enjoyed the challenge,” said Brett Velasquez, a senior at the university, three-year team captain and All-American Wrestler. “I think the biggest thing we learned is that we can push each other through tough times. At the beginning, we were really struggling because we weren’t really picking each other up but through the progression of the workout we were getting on each other to help each other push through it.”
Gunnery Sgt. Joseph Ferguson, the recruiting station logistics chief and former drill instructor, urged the wrestlers to dig deep within themselves to complete the workout. It would take everything they had and they were not allowed to quit or let the person next to them fall behind. They would fail or succeed as a team.
“I hope they see that ultimately this is a mental barrier,” said Randow. “They always have more in the tank and if they can get through the pain and get through that mental weakness, they can come out a stronger individual and they can represent themselves and their team even more than they thought possible.”
At the end of the exercises, the Marines lead the team through a discussion about their core values; honor, courage and commitment, and how the athletes can apply those values to what they do as wrestlers, but also as students and ambassadors for the university.
“I saw our team really come together today and rely on each other not just physically but emotionally as well,” said Steve Costanzo, the head wrestling coach at the university. “I think we met all three of the core values of the Marine Corps today and I think those three attributes are going to be very important to us as we move forward throughout the season.”