After months of dedication, practice, and discipline, Norwich University’s Regimental Drill Team traveled to New Orleans to compete in the Mardi Gras Drill Meet at Tulane University against universities from across the nation. The drill meet consisted of events such as platoon inspection, squad basic drill, color guard, platoon exhibition and individual exhibition.
The students began the trip to the warm weather of the south on Wednesday, Feb. 6, just in time to miss New England’s latest snow storm. With the competition approaching on that Friday, Thursday was a day for practice. The owner of the Saint’s practice football stadium opened up a field for the team to rehearse. Once the students felt comfortable with their events, they had a night filled with Norwich alumni. A handful of alumni welcomed the team for dinner as they all swapped stories of their years on the hill.
After an enjoyable dinner, the group had an early night back to the hotel in order to get some rest before competition day. The first event on Tulane’s campus began at 9 a.m. and the last finished just before the awards ceremony in late afternoon. The sunny day was filled with high stress situations and team concentration.
The Drill Team finished second overall in the national competition. They placed first in squad basic drill, and third in platoon regulation. Zachary Smith, 22, a mechanical engineering senior from Yorktown, Va. won first place for his performance in individual exhibition. Following closely behind Smith was junior drill team member, Preston Huntington from Fla., who placed third in the same event.
The hours of hard work allowed the team to walk away from the competition with trophies in hand. With two days left in New Orleans and the competition over, many were able to enjoy some Louisiana food, tour the French Quarter, and finally relax.
The rifles weren’t put away for good after the competition, however. On Saturday the team performed in the Iris Mardi Gras parade for thousands of celebrators. With successful flights back to the northeast, the team arrived to a snow-covered Vermont with Mardi Gras beads to go around and trophies to display.