MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO, Calif. --
More than 180 high school students from around the country competed for awards and scholarships during the 2010 Youth Physical Fitness Championship May 14 and 15 at the depot’s track and soccer field.
The championship is a five-event competition including sit-ups, push-ups, pull-ups, broad jump and a shuttle run.
This year’s competition included for the first time high school students from Marine Corps Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps, as well as high school students who participate in the program independently from MCJROTC. The students came from various states including Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas.
“This year we added JROTC, and that adds a nice spice to the mix,” said Laurel A. Hull, committee member of Marine Corps Physical Fitness League.
“I am so excited and nervous,” said 16-year-old Whittney J. Neavins, Jean Ribault High School, Jacksonville, Fla. “I know I can do it, but because we are all competing, I know it’s going to be a challenge. I am looking forward to winning.”
Although this is Neavins’ first time, she has already felt the weight of the mental challenge from this competition.
“We have to push ourselves to our limit and keep telling ourselves that nothing will get in our way, that we can do it,” said Neavins.
Neavins got involved in YPF through the JROTC program at her school.
“When I go home, I know I am going to have a boost of self confidence and have increased physical skills.”
Another first-time competitor was 16-year-old Linda G. Fragosa, Tahquitz High School, Hemet, Calif.
“I wanted to do this because it only makes me a better competitor for the future,” said Fragosa. “Competing teaches me what I need to work on. I learned this year I need to work on my pull-ups.”
Fragosa intends to come back next year because of the elevated confidence she receives from competing.
According to www.marineyouthfoundation.org, the National Youth Physical Fitness Program provides a mental, moral and physical challenge and establishes reachable goals. The fitness program also provides important recognition, which leads to pride in the individuals self and becomes a building block for future self-improvement.
Youth organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club, the Young Marines of the Marine Corps League, the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts, high school Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps units and many others use this program to enhance the wellbeing of young adults all across the country. It teaches students to respect their bodies and helps them build and maintain a personal resistance to drugs, alcohol and tobacco.
During the competition, drill instructors monitored the events and encouraged students, ensuring maximum effort. “The drill instructors were very hard, but extremely motivating,” said 18-year-old Ivan E. Nava, Desert Hot Springs High School, Desert Hot Springs, Calif. “The drill instructors motivated all six of us on my team.”
Nava will be back here next month for recruit training. Being part of JROTC influenced Nava to enlist. His master sergeant was an excellent mentor and Nava wants to obtain the same leadership qualities that his instructor possesses.
“I really hope we can bring JROTC from other services,” said Hull. “We would like to see this competition grow.”
It’s very beneficial for students to come to these national competitions because it can help them gauge their physical fitness level with those of students from different places, said Hull.
“Taking the time and being dedicated to their physical fitness, keeps students out of trouble and not doing drugs,” said Hull. “The commitment of the individuals, their effort as a team and the encouraging coach believing in the kids make this all work.”
The JROTC first place male competitor was Jackson Dalby, Catholic High School, Little Rock, Ark. The non-JROTC first place male competitor was Nino Adamo, Emmaus High School, Emmaus, Penn. Ana Figueroa, Oceanside High School, Oceanside, Calif., took first place for the JROTC female individual competition and Julie Crump, Emmaus High School, Emmaus, Pa., took first place for the non-JROTC female individual competition.
Catholic High School took home the gold in the JROTC boys team competition and Jean Ribault High School received the gold in the JROTC girls team competition. Non-JROTC team competition gold winners were Emmaus High School for both boys and girls.
The top teams were awarded $1,000; the top male and top female received $500; second place received $250 and third place received $100. Participants also received plaques and metals.