By Jenna Fitzgerald | Copy Editor
Baylor’s Air Force ROTC and Army ROTC will join forces to participate in the annual Veteran’s Cup at 5 p.m. on Friday at the Baylor Sciences Building fields. The event will include an hour of sports competition — including tug of war, dodgeball, ultimate frisbee and a relay race — before a cookout.
San Antonio senior and Air Force ROTC cadet Sarah Skelton is the special projects officer in charge of Veteran’s Cup. She said she planned the event alongside a team of six other cadets, and she expects a turnout of between 100 and 120 people.
“Veteran’s Cup is a big morale event,” Skelton said. “The idea of the whole event is just to get some good fellowship in with ROTC and also some of Baylor’s veterans — just kind of getting to know each other outside of ROTC things.”
Skelton said logistically, Air Force ROTC and Army ROTC do not interact on a routine basis, coming together only for a select few events and holidays each year.
“We both have our ROTC classes in the classrooms that are right next to each other, but we hardly ever do any type of events with them, let alone morale events,” Skelton said. “Last semester, we had a 9/11 memorial run, and Air Force and Army both partnered together to make that happen. Other than that, we don’t have a lot of events. I will caveat that though and say that a lot of Air Force cadets are friends with the Army cadets, just outside of the organized events.”
However, Katy senior and Air Force ROTC cadet Jacob Ramirez said their typical separation is why it’s so important for them to join under a united front for an event like Veteran’s Cup.
“Although we’re joining different branches and are training different, it shows that we’re still part of the same military,” Ramirez said. “We’re all trying to chase the same goal. We’re all the same type of person; there’s a certain type of person who’s willing to sign up and go through the ROTC program for four years and then commission as an officer in the military.”
Round Rock senior and Army ROTC cadet Julia Robinson is the operations sergeant major helping with Veteran’s Cup. She said their collaboration is a precursor to the work they will be doing in the actual military.
“In the military, you don’t just work within your own branch,” Robinson said. “You often work with people outside of your own branch, maybe from different countries and different militaries. Our missions are kind of different, so what we do day to day in ROTC is kind of different from each other, so getting to gain perspective from them and them getting to gain perspective from us, and getting to plan something together and see how we can work together to have a good time.”
In addition to current ROTC cadets, the event is also open to Baylor veterans who have gone through one of the ROTC programs. Skelton said veterans have significant experience to offer to current cadets.
“Just getting to know them and share in advice and mentorship that they’re able to offer has been really beneficial in the past, so we’re looking forward to getting back on our feet with doing that,” Skelton said.
Ramirez said when it comes to the interactions between current ROTC cadets and Baylor veterans, the benefits go both ways. While current cadets can learn from veterans’ real-world experience, veterans have the opportunity to see those who will one day take over their role.
“I think it’s important so that the current and older generations of veterans see the people who are coming in to fill their shoes, and it gives them that opportunity to be a mentor,” Ramirez said. “Things may have changed, but generally, the job is still the job. It’s comforting to see veterans who are willing to share and push young people to become better officers than they were or better military servicemen in general.”
Because finals are approaching, Skelton said this event is coming at a critical time. She said their commander often tells them, “Have fun, but grades come first,” and she thinks Veteran’s Cup is a great example of maintaining this balance.
“This is the time where people are going to be deciding, ‘OK, am I actually enjoying my time in ROTC? Is this something that I want to continue to do?’” Skelton said. “So I think by offering this morale event, it gives people an opportunity to take a step back and be like, ‘OK, yes, I’m still having fun here. This is what I want to continue doing.’ It helps clear their mind before they go into finals.”