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Team USA and the Military

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In 1979, Coach Herb Brooks is given the task of assembling a team of undisciplined individuals and turning them into a team capable of beating the Soviet Union in Olympic hockey.  Following an exhibition match between team USA and Norway, in which the Americans, more focused on the women in the stands than their play on the ice, were soundly beaten, Coach Brooks lined his players up on the blue line and had them skate sprints until they were on the ground heaving.  His message?  You may not be the best players in hockey, but you will be the best conditioned.  Teams win, not individuals, and the USA on the front of the jersey is more important than your own name on the back of the jersey.  Following that episode the players of Team USA came together to stage what many regard as the greatest triumphs in American sports.  The team defeated the Soviet Union in the semi-finals and then defeated Finland two days later to win the Gold.

In its own way, joining the military is a lot like trying to get on that Olympic hockey team. You have to have some talent, but the key is motivation, discipline, and teamwork. Coach Brooks didn’t need the best players to beat the Soviets, but he did need the best team.  A common misconception civilians have about boot camp is that it will make you disciplined; it won’t.  All those push ups, all those crab crawls, the confidence course, the runs, and the grass drills, they are just opportunities for you to demonstrate you have the mental courage to complete the training.  Yes, you will be taxed physically, but it is your mental state that will make or break you.  Basic training doesn’t make you disciplined, you do.  All Basic will do is give you the tools you need to achieve success in the early phase of your military career.  Coach Brooks didn’t smoke his players after that humiliating loss to Norway because he thought it would make them better players.  He did it to see how many of them would give up and decide that “I” was more important than “U.S.”  The same is true of Basic:  You will get out of it exactly what you put into it.  Apply yourself, and you will get the Gold.

Just like going to the Olympics, joining the military is a defining event, a decision that will forever influence what you do with the rest of your life.  

Can you rise to the challenge?

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