FORT BENNING, Ga. (WTVM) - It was a team-building event for the Auburn University baseball team as they took on an obstacle course that’s part of rigorous Army Ranger training.
These collegiate athletes stepped off the bus and onto Fort Benning, hoping to show how tough they are, individually and as a team. But before the military workout, these Auburn University baseball players got some special lessons at the 4th Ranger Training Battalion, a place the Army installation calls “not for the weak or faint-hearted.”
“We’re going to come in and learn a little about the Rangers, what they do every day, and the training they go through," said Conor Davis, AU baseball senior infielder.
Then, they took on the Malvesti Field confidence course, which is one of the final stages in becoming a U.S. Army Ranger.
“It’s going to be tough but the rangers have to do it, so I’m going to go in there and learn how not to quit, how to keep fighting, get through it," said AU baseball player, Ryan Bliss.
The Army leaders gave them a “Mark, get set, go!” Then those same soldiers could be heard yelling at the Auburn students all kinds of instructions during the course, like “Up down...on your stomachs” and “stay low through the barbed wire, get to the end, roll in the next pit!"
4-man teams pushed themselves on this obstacle course that can be grueling from start to finish, from monkey bars over water to low crawls to high climbs, getting wet and muddy in the process, all to show them perseverance.
“Push themselves beyond what they thought they could do. That lets them see that any challenge they face is just a stepping stone to what’s really in front of them," said Sgt. 1st Class Justin Silverthorn as his fellow Army leaders yelled “Get up that wall!”
SFC Silverthorn described “One [wall] they go over, one they go through, and two they’ve got to climb up over top of. From there, they will knock out some pullups, then they have to go up a rope climb.”
Some of these Auburn Tigers, in a previous season, completed this course in just under 20 minutes, while it may take Rangers just 5 minutes.
“It was one of the most tiring experiences I’ve ever gone through. It makes you put in perspective what they really do, the training," Davis said about the confidence course.
“It basically lets you show you can’t always do everything on your own. You need to work together as a team," Silverthorn said.
The baseball players carried each other, literally, as part of the confidence course - an event which players say will tighten the bond for their team but also deepens their perspective.
Bliss said “We’re able to live freely and play the game that we love because they’re out there fighting for our protection. I have the utmost respect for them.”
It’s respect that they hope will strengthen the ties between the civilian and military community, a goal of this Partners in Education event on Fort Benning.