Regimental ‘march downs’ spur on sports teams, but also stir debate

The Corps marches down for a Norwich football game, a long tradition.

The Corps marches down for a Norwich football game, a long tradition.

Camouflage uniforms packed the stands. Cheers rattled the rafters of the rink as Norwich University Women’s Hockey team member Kayla Parsons took the ice with her team.

She had never experienced a crowd like this in her nearly four years of playing. Being in the Corps of Cadets, Parsons had participated in “march downs” so many times before, but now, experiencing it for herself as an athlete receiving the Corps’ support, “was one of the coolest things since being here.”

“March downs” are when the Corps of Cadets gets in formation and marches together from the upper parade ground on campus to where an athletic event is taking place.

Until recently, having the Corps of Cadets march down has been a tradition set aside specifically for the Norwich University football team. But march downs have been extending out to support other NU athletic teams as well.

“I’ve participated in a lot of march downs and I think they are really good for sports teams and the school. I personally think every team should have them,” said Kayla Parson Parsons, 21, a senior majoring in nursing from Fairbanks, Alaska. Parsons plays both roles on campus – as a member of the Norwich Women’s Ice Hockey team and a cadet.

Elle Kadel, 21, a senior majoring in history also from Fairbanks, Alaska, said that she feels march downs for all sports teams are important. “I think every team should have a march down at least once in their season. Every single sport should have the opportunity at least one time to have that many people at their game.”

For many NU teams, experiencing a large crowd cheering them on motivates the team that much more to win and is memorable for all players.

For Norwich football player Luis Delgado, 24, a senior majoring in engineering management from Stone Ridge, N.Y., the feeling of running onto the field his freshman year was unforgettable, “I felt like I had given birth to Hercules. It was such a flush of emotions that you could never describe in words. Whether you are angry, mad, happy, or sad you are charged up in that moment.”

Similar to Delgado, the march down sparked emotion in Parsons as well. “It was probably the most touching experience of my life. It meant a lot, I’m not going to lie I kind of did tear up,” she said.

However, members of other athletic teams feel they deserve a march down as well and its unfair for some teams to get them while others do not.

Lacrosse player Austin Greene, 22, a senior majoring in communications from Hanover, Mass., would like to have a march down for his team, but also finds that prospect unrealistic.

“I know during the season everyone is recognized and it would be hard to organize because we have more games during the week so that probably couldn’t happen then. It would definitely be awesome if we get another home championship game to experience a march down,” Greene said.

NU men’s basketball player Dennis Brooks, a 5-7 guard on the team, agrees. The 22-year-old senior management and accounting major from Bennington, Vt., said that he thinks it’s unfair that his team has never had a march down while others have.

“I believe every team should have a march down at least once a year. It’s unfair that some sports teams have that support and others don’t. At least one mandatory march down should be required for each team,” Brooks said.

However, according to Ryan Sutherland, the regimental commander, any team can request a march down. He works with his operations officer to form a plan or a formation of the corps for the events and they accept these requests as long as they do not conflict with any training.

“Traditionally football games we attend by tradition – so any home game, as long as there isn’t any conflicting obligation. But with hockey games or any other athletic team events, it’s more of the athletic team requesting a march down,” Sutherland, 22, said.

Besides football, in the past very few athletic teams have requested march downs. “The rugby team had somewhat asked us last year and this year the hockey teams have been fairly involved, but the majority of the teams have never requested a march down, and we do want to facilitate them. We just need to hear that they want our support,” Sutherland said.

Yet, even if some teams were to request a march down, they must have a facility that is able to support 1,500 cadets showing up and must give notice two weeks prior to the game, according to Sutherland.

However, some cadets participating in the march down do not think every team should be able to have the privilege.

“I think it makes sense on a tradition standpoint because I know the football team has always done it and it’s been a tradition, but I don’t think it makes any sense otherwise because hockey teams aren’t going to see it,” said Kyle Crowley, 21, a cadet and a junior history major from Burlington, Mass.

Scott Knoll, 21, a junior majoring in criminal justice from Columbus, N.J., agrees that every sports team should not get a march down. “I think only major sports teams at the school should get them and not for every game but every so often. It’s a tradition for football,” Knoll said.

For others in the corps participating in march downs, like Dong Kim, 21, a junior majoring in communications from Acton, Mass., the march downs for sporting events seem unnecessary. “Sporting events should be voluntary, if you like the sport then you should go.”

Being in the corps, Parsons understands there are better things to do, but still thinks march downs are important.

“I was in those situations a couple of times, like on a Saturday afternoon, who wants to go down and watch a football game when you don’t want to see it, but if I expect people to go to my sports games then why wouldn’t I do that for somebody else? I guess it’s hard to put people above yourself, but once you are [at the game] it’s fun,” Parsons said.

However, some freshman in the corps say they don’t mind doing the march downs and find it beneficial in respect to having the entire corps participate in an activity.

“I think it’s cool to do something as a corps, we don’t actually get a lot of chances to do that. During Rook Week in the beginning there’s a lot of that, but throughout the semester with all the classes and everything there isn’t, so as a Corps together that’s something special that we have,” said Rafael Ruizcoss, 19, a freshman mechanical engineer major from San Diego, Calif.

Yet, Ruizcoss agreed with others that he does not think every team should get a march down; only the teams that can “win” should have the privilege.

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