This story was written by TTU senior journalism major Melissa Edwards and posted by the Office of Communications & Marketing.
After weeks of training that challenged their mental and physical strength, four cadets in Tennessee Tech University’s Golden Eagle Battalion earned a gold badge during the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge competition earlier this month at Indiana University.
The badge is a foreign award offered by the host country, Germany, and made available to U.S. service members starting in 1972. Participants compete in nine events over three days testing their military performance, physical ability and overall professional character in hopes of earning a gold, silver or bronze badge.
“I knew it was going to be really difficult. Everyone around me really motivated me and I was really excited when I got gold,” freshman nursing major Alexa Hancock, of Jamestown, said.
Tech competed within the 7th Brigade ROTC competition with roughly 200 cadets from 38 colleges and universities. The competition is open to all military personnel.
In addition to Hancock, TTU’s other gold badge winners were freshman Carl Beilstein, a freshman wildlife science major from Arlington; junior Josh Sholly, a civil engineering major from Smyrna; and Lane Wolfenbarger, a freshman nursing major from Knoxville.
The cadets said the training they received at TTU before the competition prepared them well in comparison to other schools.
“There were a bunch of schools that failed out just because they said they didn’t practice certain events and only focused on running and ruck marching,” Wolfenbarger said.
Events such as the 100-meter swim and pistol shooting were among the events that proved to be the most difficult for many of the cadets in the competition.
“There were not as near as many females as there were males so that was good motivation to push myself. Whenever you see another female, obviously you always want to be the best that you can be,” Hancock said. “As females, we’re always assumed to be the underdogs. To be able to come out and win gold and beat other males who didn’t get it is a huge accomplishment for myself.”
Physical training for the competition on campus is typically run by the cadets themselves and supervised by their military instructors.
“I thought the competition was great for our cadets. It is a great opportunity for cadets to shine as individuals and achieve the gold standard,” said Master Sgt. Craig Wallace, TTU military instructor.