NMMI Sports Press
Roswell residents are used to seeing NMMI cadets running through the streets of the town as part of their regular physical fitness programs – often known as ‘Corps PT’.
Physical fitness is one of the three pillars of the Institute’s mission: To educate train, and prepare young men and women to be leaders capable of critical thinking and sound analysis, leaders who possess uncompromising character, and leaders able to meet challenging physical demands.
For cadets not participating in one of NMMI’s 24 sports programs, it can be one of the more challenging pillars to teach and develop.
But the corps PT program garnered some national accolades last February, when the high school won third place in the Association of Military Colleges and Schools of the United States (AMSCUS) first-ever Fitness Challenge.
“NMMI won this award on the merits of the outstanding physical performance of a group of high school students,” said athletic director Jose Barron.
“This was the first time our cadets have participated in this event,” said school president/superintendent Major General Jerry Grizzle. “And for us to take third place, it shows the overall physical fitness of the corps, particularly at the high school division, and each year we hope to get better.”
NMMI competed against about 35 military high schools across the nation. Ten cadets competed in a rigorous three-event challenge: two minutes of push ups; two minutes of sit ups; and a 1.5 mile run, all under the standards mandated by the Coast Guard.
“We test according to the Army standards, typically, and the Coast Guard test is quite different and something that they’re not very used to,” Barron said. “So the fact that our high school students were able to make the adjustment with really no additional training – except for what they received from our overall strength program – shows that we have a high level of fitness in that population.”
The ten NMMI high school cadets who competed were: senior Marcelo Cantu, Coahuila, Mexico; Mark Pralat, Alexandria, Va.; Maximo Robles, Sonora, Mexico; Martin Ahumada, Sinaloa, Mexico; juniors Peyton Hightower, Alamogordo; Gavin Yates, Weatherford, Texas; Felix Adhemur, Sinaloa, Mexico; Alex Lee, Albuquerque; Eliana Ward, Albuquerque; and freshman Luke Anders, Corrales.
The scores from all ten were calculated with the top five scores averaged for NMMI’s final rating.
“It’s an honor for us to place, particularly when we have so many military high schools out there that compete for this,” Barron said. “To be among the most elite, I think validates what we’re doing and it’s a testament to the dedication of our cadets and of our coaches.”
Robles, who was one of the top five finishers and hopes to get an ROTC scholarship for college, said the test was hard but that he used mind over matter to finish.
“I just go after it,” he said. “I try not to associate myself with the pain, but I have to say I’m grateful for all the teachers I’ve had and all the trainers who supported me all the way through.”
Cantu, another top five finisher, played soccer for the Colts in the fall and will head back to Mexico when he’s done at the Institute.
“It’s all about discipline and never giving up, when you think you can’t keep going,” he said. “It’s about discipline and motivation and also exercise and practice. They say ‘practice makes perfect,’ so that’s what I think it was.”
The award also says a lot about NMMI strength and conditioning instructors Daniel Ford and Tyrell Curtis, who set up the training program the cadets participate in three times a week.
“I think that those two do an outstanding job training large groups of cadets,” Barron said. “It is also important to note that the people who train all our varsity athletes, they’re the same ones who are out there in the corps physical fitness program, developing and improving it to help our cadets, even those who are not in athletics.”
“It was pretty cool to see the high school was in the top three, and a lot of credit goes to not just us, but to all of our cadet PT coaches,” Ford said. ‘We have five different things going on at 3:45 p.m. I can only be one place. Coach Curtis can only be one place. We have a lot of PT coaches who help run the program.”
Those coaches include Joseph Strickler and Gavin Yates, who help with the training which varies each day to include push ups, pull ups, a modified row, runinng and ab exercises.
“On a weekly basis we’ll change the stresses we put on them, in terms of rest times, work times and what kind of effort we’re looking for,” Ford said.
“Every day involves some sort of pushup, some sort of situp and an attempt to run,” Curtis said. “The run is the hardest part, and in the test that they took the run was by far the hardest part of the test.”
Every student who’s not on an in-season athletic team, the prep program, or ROTC is required to participate in the corps PT program.
The junior college also competed in the contest. They didn’t fare quite as well as the high school, failing to place in the top 3. But there was a reason for that, Barron said.
“They go up against both four-year and two-year institutions,” he said. “Obviously, our goal is to get up there whether it’s two-year or four-year institutions, but the reality is that the training is a little bit different.”
And all three top finishers in the college contest — Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets; the Citadel; and Norwich University — are four-year schools.
But Barron is sure the Broncos will do better next time.
“I think our college students did very well, they just didn’t place this time,” he said. “I’ll put that challenge to coach Ford and coach Curtis: those two men are very professional and very deliberate in how they set up the program, having taken the program from others in the past and having tweaked the program to the place where it is now.”
And win or lose, Barron was pleased with how the cadets did.
“Testament to our cadets,” he said. “We put in front of them something they had never done. They met the challenge and received accolades for doing so well. I’m proud of those cadets. This is just one small part of what is done to help teach life-long physical fitness, health and wellness. The cadets who take this program seriously gain tremendous benefits from it. Those benefits include not only tangible awards like this, but in many intangibiles that will come to them in the years beyond NMMI.”