November 5, 2012
By Mark DeFrances
PHOENIX — When the U.S. Army Tucson Recruiting Company, Phoenix Recruiting Battalion, challenged Tucson area high school juniors and seniors to a special fitness event 164 young men and women answered the call Sept. 29, 2012.
Along with Tucson Future Soldiers, students from 10 schools formed a total of 20 six-person teams to test their strength and endurance on a sunny Saturday morning cheered on by parents, friends and Tucson Unified School District officials.
The Army Grad Challenge event was held at the Fred Archer Community Center in Tucson bolstered by a local FM station and a special appearance by the 62nd Army Rock Band from Fort Huachuca, Ariz.
Almost 40 Tucson Recruiters registered the students, judged the events and handed out prizes and trophies to the winning teams. The events consisted of swimming; a mile and a half run; push-up, sit-up and pull-up competitions; a tire flip and water-can-carrying event. Prizes included iPods and iTunes gift cards.
According to Tucson Company Commander Capt. Mathew Cain, school district officials are now considering repeating the event on an annual basis. Participating high schools included Cholla High Magnet, Flowing Wells, Rio Rico, Maricopa, Bisbee, Rincon, Sunnyside and Sahuaro.
Mike Hensley, wrestling coach at La Cholla High School, said “our students were really enthused to be able to cross train with Army personnel. There were parents involved and some of them even joined in the competition. We’d love to participate in a community event like this, again. It worked out really well,” he added.
“What made this event awesome were the Tucson recruiters,” Sgt. 1st Class Emil Baker, Tucson Company Master Trainer said. “They got the school district officials involved, got the students to attend and then inspired them do their very best. The Army Rock band from Fort Huachuca took this over the top as they played a variety of music. We had a lot of time to plan this event and got the whole community involved.”