"Double time, March!" This familiar command is heard echoing across the Upper Parade Ground and campus of Norwich as early at 0545 throughout the week. It is a command given to a mass formed and ready to start running, usually followed by an echo of cadences. It is a command given during physical training.
Physical training, or PT, are activities which improve or maintain physical fitness. Since the institution of the corps of cadets at Norwich, PT has been an ongoing function at the school. It is required by the Norwich University Corps of Cadets to earn the Military College of Vermont diploma.
PT takes place during the early morning hours on certain weekdays, varying from year to year and sometimes even by company in the corps regiment.
"I think it (PT) is an image of the corps," says Parker Babbe, a 20-year-old business management major from Santa Barbara, Calif. "Having a sound mind and body, having a good education, and active physical atmosphere go hand in hand."
"I came to this school expecting a different experience, like I'm sure most others in the corps did," Babbe said. "The fact that PT is such an integral part of cadet life sets Norwich apart because it has been one of the ongoing occurrences throughout Norwich history that each class that passes through this school has experienced."
Babbe is glad that the school requires cadets to do PT and maintain a physical lifestyle. "I think physical fitness is an integral part of leadership training, being in the military, especially being an officer in the military you have to lead by example, so how can you expect people to follow you if you can't conduct basic physical exercises and challenges," he said.
Before junior cadets receive their rings they must pass a PT test which consist of a 2-mile run, pushups and sit-ups.
Cadets who run PT are given the title physical training instructor or PTI and they plan, organize and lead their peers in PT on the scheduled mornings.
"When people are put in charge of their peers it gives them just that much more leadership experience," Babbe said. He believes that the execution and responsibility of having to conduct PT benefits cadets because it provides them with the opportunity to practice their leadership skills and ability.
"I think being able to wake up when it's still dark out three days out of the week and PT and then go to classes all day gives you a competitive advantage over other students at other universities," Babbe said.
One of the corps PTIs, sophomore Chris Bock of New Town, Conn., says he is benefiting from the ongoing practice of corps PT. The 20-year-old criminal justice major said, "At first it was kind of intimidating, my first leadership position, especially because I have people older than me, but when I finally took charge, I gave them the respect they deserved, and in turn they respected me."
Bock says he has to lead cadets that are older than him with a year or more experience in the corps. He says, "There are some seniors and juniors who aren't used to following someone younger than them so at first there was kind of a standoffish thing, where they gave half effort, but now they see the benefit and have left that mindset."
Leading people older than oneself is an experience that is a necessary challenge for cadets: Many will face instances when they will be put in charge of service members with more years in the military than them.
Having faced that challenge, Bock said, "It has given me more confidence."
Tyler Beresford, 20, a sophomore international studies major from Haymarket, Va., thinks PT is a good thing. "It helps with your leadership experiences, and it's a great start to the day."
He added, "If you think about it you're going to have to do stuff like this in the military."PT, he said, is another way Norwich is preparing its students for life after graduation.
Nicholas Quasnitschka, a 19-year-old criminal justice major sophomore, from Bridgton, Maine, welcomes PT. As an upperclassmen PTI, he said, "I like the fact that there is still a program in which you still are required to get up and do something active and physical to start the day; however, I do not feel that it is implemented enough."
Although all classes much do PT, in his experience, Quasnitschka said, "Among upperclassmen, I feel that there isn't enough support. A lot of upperclassmen do not like to participate."
"This could be due to the fact that it is required all four years, and as a rook in the corps PT was enforced daily by cadre (the rooks training staff)," said Anthony Nerio, a 19-year-old sophomore communications major from Clifton, N.J.
Nerio deals with corps freshman three days a week. "As a PTI I'm in charge of a squad of freshman, what we do is a series of different things including sprint work outs, stamina training, flexibility, and upper body PT just to name a few."
Nerio enjoys PT as part of his lifestyle. "We choose to live a healthier lifestyle, we motivate each other, and the school maintains a healthier, fit image," he said.
As a freshman, Jordan Hasbrouck, 19, of Hartland, Mich., enjoys the challenges he gets from PT. Hasbrouck, a mechanical engineer major, said, "When I first came here I thought the PT was pretty rough. It wasn't like anything I'd ever done before but after a while I started liking it. It's still pretty hard but it pushes me."
He said, "We PT here because first off it's a military college, so we have to be in shape for the military. Also it's because it is one of the guiding values here."
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