The biggest fight yet is still waiting for the Pioneer Battalion Raider Team, but they’ve been flawless in victories so far. The local JROTC continues to turn heads and is hoping to bring home the biggest trophy soon in nationals.
The Raiders, guided by First Sergeant Tim Howard, have been on a mission this season. Left in their path have been a string of brilliant performances, including a recent victory in Soddy Daisy. It’s been a rush of excitement for the team, which is bringing back trophies at a pace never before seen in the Raider program.
“We have had seasons with back-to-back wins, normally a co-ed team taking second place. This is the first time a male team, or any team, has dominated every event they have encountered,” said Howard. “Fueling them is their drive to be the best they can, not just athletically, but academically as well. I tell them all the time to ‘Drink the Kool-Aid,’ meaning to buy in and support each other. Once they tasted victory, it was on.”
The team found its footing back in August, going to Clarkrange and bringing home a bushel of trophies, including the male team winning top honors. The group repeated the feat in the ‘Bring the Sting’ event in Fairview in September, rolling past 20 over teams to win.
By the time the Pioneer Battalion Raider Team rolled into Soddy Daisy recently, they weren’t just hoping to win. They were expecting the victory.
The local Raiders were the favorites in the male division and proved why swiftly. The male team won five of the six individual events in Soddy Daisy. The Pioneer Battalion was first in the Gauntlet, the Team Buddy fitness challenge, Rope Bridge and the Murph. The only event they didn’t take first in was the cross country rescue, where they were mere seconds behind in second place.
“Their grit and determination to be the best earned them first in five events,” said Howard.
Like any great team, the Pioneer Battalion counts heavily on veteran leadership to get the job done. The Raiders are packed with senior standouts, including Thomas Turpin (Male Team Commander), Lucas Pescevic (Assistant Male Team Commander), Antonio Hernandez (Co-ed Team Commander), Olivia Talbert (Female Team Commander) and Jacob Cox (Male Team Member).
“The standouts are the seniors. They have been there before, and the junior members of the team understand it,” said Howard. “Additionally, the junior class is eager to bring it and look forward to their chance to lead next year. All are taking the leadership skill by being in JROTC and are applying it to the Raider team. It’s attributing to the success.”
The trophies and success this season are showing how vital the JROTC program is for the local kids. At the end of the day, First Sergeant Howard is very happy to see the Raiders learning how to translate their training into success in all endeavors.
“I hope this success tells these kid that they are capable of achieving anything they want. By putting yourself out there and committing to the team, no matter how hard it is, they can win at this chosen path and win at life after school,” said Howard.
He won’t be making it any easier on his squads before Nationals in November. Training has already cranked back up after Fall break as the team has ambitions of beating the best teams across the country at the US Army JROTC Raider Nationals in Molena, Ga. on Nov. 5-7.
Howard is going to make sure the Raiders are ready for anything the national course has to offer.
“I tailor my training to replicate the meet as best as possible, making it 20 percent harder than what we will encounter on game day. The ultimate goal is just making the team better with the hopes of ranking high at Nationals,” said Howard. “We are going to face teams we have not encountered for a year. These teams come from as far as Hawaii and New York. There are teams from large schools and small schools, county schools and military academies. This will be the biggest task yet.”
If this season has proven anything, it’s that the Pioneer Battalion Raider team will be ready. Their quest for trophies isn’t over yet.