Unarmed exhibition team takes steps toward perfection
Practice. Perfect the routine. Repeat. Perform. Chant.
For 10 hours each week, Taluv James leads the Waynesville Tiger Battalion Unarmed Exhibition – a strategic step team in JROTC – to perfection.
“You have to be precise with every movement,” James said. “And you have to work as a team. What sets our routine apart is the tight bound that we all have. We can be arguing one day, crying the next, celebrating the next. No matter what, we are in this together.”
At the team’s first major competition at Blue Springs this year, they took second.
“This is a big deal for us,” said Col. (Ret.) Charles Williams, JROTC senior Army instructor. “This is the first time that our unarmed exhibition team has ever placed at a meet of this size. We’re really good.”
Even more impressive, the team is made up of all freshmen, except Katelynn Mitchell, a sophomore, and James, a senior who plans to major in biology at Culver-Stockton College and eventually become a doctor.
“We have a great foundation and I think we will grow as a competitive team,” Williams said. “I am excited. If the team keeps focused, we could potentially become better than any other team out there.”
James’ drive and initiative sparked the new team’s formation.
“I wanted to start something that would make a difference,” James said.
In JROTC Raider challenges, teams without an unarmed exhibition team cannot win an overall trophy.
“This team completes our unarmed exhibition lineup and makes us eligible for overall championships,” Williams said.
“I wanted to do this and help our overall team grow,” said Catalina Ortega.
The team currently consists of Taluv James, Catalina Ortega, Jessica Dewhirst, Olivia Garcia, Katelynn Mitchell, Autumn Mitchem, Breanna Slaughter and Alajan Fortune.
Practice isn’t easy.
“We have had to learn how to work through tension and we’ve all become closer by being part of the team,” Mitchell said.
Tensions rise when their movements are not in sync. “When we’re not together in our steps and we accidentally call the wrong foot, it can be frustrating, but we practice really hard and help each other and work together as a team,” Mitchem said.
Read more about the team and hear the cadets performing their chant at www.waynesville.k12.mo.us and click on Programs/Services and then on the I in the Tiger link.
The work pays off.
“Blue Springs went pretty good, considering it was our first major competition,” Slaughter said. “Our commander did such a good job leading us.”
Dewhirst loves the competitions. After each one, they have chant they shout out. “It’s fun,” she says. “It’s about cooperation. We start as a team. We finish as a team.”
“Beyond winning, it’s great just being a part of this group,” Fortune said. “Through this drill team, I have made more friends.”
The number of team members can increase, so for those looking to join the team next year, Garcia offers this advice, “Be prepared for practice, come to practice and have a great attitude.”