Rattler Battalion wins at 2015 Ranger Challenge competition

Florida A&M University’s Army ROTC “Rattler Battalion” participated in the 2015 Ranger Challenge in Camp Blanding, Fla. Jan. 22.

The Ranger Challenge was a two-day event, with several ROTC teams from Florida, Georgia and Puerto Rico to complete military-related tasks, such as knot tying, obstacle course completing and cross country-like distance hiking.  It is considered to be a valuable training tool for ROTC Army students.

Two of the 10 FAMU teams earned the coveted Ranger Challenge Streamer and the Ranger Challenge Tab.

Cadet Cpt. Brooke M. Hollaway, a senior healthcare professional from Saint Petersburg, Fla., and captain of one of the FAMU Ranger Challenge teams said she participated in the challenge for health benefits.

“I decided to sign up personally because the workouts are more intense. With more intense workouts you get better results,” Hollaway said. “You also learn different crafts that everyone does not generally know i.e Rope Bridge or things of the nature.”

Hollaway also shared why she decided to be a captain. Last year, she participated in the Ranger Challenge as a team alternative.

“We have a system called chain of command,” Hollaway said. “Somebody else in command got injured, so I fell in command next, and served to the best of my abilities. My drive and the fact that I’m outgoing helped me push the team as a captain. I didn’t volunteer but I made a commitment and stuck with it.”

Cadet Terrance Stewart, a senior pre-physical therapy student from Zephyrhills, Fla., said that there is a large Historically Black College and University presence at the Ranger Challenge, but the larger school with a huge cadet core commitment are the teams to beat.

“It’s an accomplishment to make it through the competition, but not just because we are from an HBCU,” Stewart said. “There are plenty of teams that come from Black colleges and universities and we embrace them. But it’s a challenge to get out there and compete with all of the larger schools that do this and frequently win.”

Stewart said students should join Army ROTC to serve the U.S.

“Most people join for monetary benefits, but it is a large commitment. You have to wake up early and you have to work out, which is normal for some” Stewart said. “But the main reason to join is to serve. If you come for any other reason you will not last.”

Hollaway said ROTC makes students more productive.

“You get to do more as a student,” Hollaway said. “You get to travel. We’ve both been out of the country. You become more active in your community. We’re called to serve in this battalion, and we help the school out in various ways.  You’re responsible for more which in return makes you a more proactive student.”

Faculty and staff were unable to assist the cadets during the challenge. Hollaway said that the condition may have helped them.

“It gave us a chance as leaders to be adaptive leaders like they train us to do,” Hollaway said. “They want us to be critical thinkers, thinking on our feet. We don’t need that outside help from our commanders all of the time. But, for them to be there for support and motive did help us a lot.”

Aaron Wright, a junior psychology student from Miami, congratulated the batallion for its accomplishment.

“I always see them at every event here from convocation to football games, which is a good thing because they stay connected to the school in their own way,” Wright said.  “But, I didn’t know they did these long extensive Amazing Race like challenges. Congratulations to those boys. I am proud of them.”