New system boosts NU competition in the Army’s Bold Leader Challenge

Cadets from Norwich’s Army ROTC test their military skills against other senior and junior military colleges at the U.S. Army’s Bold Leader Challenge competition (Formerly Ranger Challenge). “It’s a way for all Army ROTCs to compete against each other,” said Nicholas Carella, 21, a team captain of Norwich’s Bold Leader Challenge (BLC).

Carella, a senior biology major from Southbury, Conn., is the BLC alpha team captain. He believes the competition promotes development for the ROTC departments and their cadets.
“There is an alpha team and a bravo team. The alpha team members are the ones who compete at the competition,” explained Bryce Caldwell, 22, a senior athletic training major from Keene, N.H., who is an alpha team member.
Caldwell said there were changes in the selection process for the BLC this year, explaining that in recent years there was only one week of tryouts followed by peer evaluations. “This year army cadre took over as our coaches and sent us through three weeks of testing and training,” Caldwell said.
The only requirement to trying out for the team is that “you need to be contracted or seeking a contract with the Army,” said Michael Carrara, 21, a senior construction management major from Ocean Township, N.J. and bravo team’s captain. He added that “teams need at least one female to qualify for the competition.”
“We PT (physical training) three to five times a week,” said Daniel Lupacchino, 20, a junior political science major from Meriden, Conn., the bravo team’s co-captain.
“We practice to develop not only our leadership and critical thinking skills but our practical skills,” Lupacchino said. “Basic marksmanship, grenade throwing, land navigation, and weapon assembly” are all focus points when training for the competition.
Preparation for the competition is no short and easy task.
“We had a smoke show type PT session from 0500 to 0700 and then we practice at night from 1600 to 1900,” Carrara said.
The competition has a variety of events stationed around the base where teams are challenged to their fullest capabilities. “The main things are obstacle courses, grenade and weapon familiarization, rope bridges, shooting, land navigation, as well as (a) physical aspect,” Carella said.
Competing for the number one position is always a goal. “We want to beat all the other military colleges, but our main competitor would be Texas A&M because they’ve consecutively won for four or five years,” said Caldwell.
Members of BLC don’t compete just to win a trophy, but to develop their skills as future leaders, said Lupacchino. “I had to train and motivate these people who knew more than I did,” Lupacchino said of his role as co-captain.
The training and structure of BLC is set up to “test our capabilities as officers,” Caldwell said.“The program (BLC) we have set up now is a lot better and is going to continue to get better until we beat everyone,” Caldwell said.

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