ROTC cadets jump into action at the Huskie Stadium during repelling practice

By Olivia Willoughby

Thursday morning, ROTC cadets from NIU and Kishwaukee College practiced their repelling skills on 25 and 40 foot towers at the Huskie Stadium.

ROTC’s fourth lab of the year incorporated what students normally see in war movies: jumping off backwards from towering heights with a rope. Though there were no bombs or bullets to avoid Thursday, the situation still had the adrenaline pumping.

“We had the whole battalion, about 112 cadets, conquering their fear of heights,” said political science major Neal Swanson. “It can be a little scary.”

Cadets were split up into four different sections throughout the day. The point of the exercise was to train future army officers, Swanson said.

Though it may be a challenge to overcome at first, cadets are rewarded with confidence after their first try.

“It’s super fun, and they’re nice confidence builders,” said pre-physical therapy major Christian Maranan. “For people who’s first time it is, the adrenaline goes up. Once they’re ready to repel, they’re already on the ground.”

Boosting confidence in the cadets was a key aspect of Thursday’s lab. Aside from learning how to properly use the equipment and harness themselves for repelling, cadets also learned how to become future leaders.

“We build up confident leaders so they can go into services as confident leaders,” said Lt. Col. David Dosier. “We will continue to do activities like this throughout the year and give them a situation they’re not comfortable with. This will help them learn how to operate when they’re in that uncomfortable zone.”

Repel masters from the National Guard Unit in Aurora also attended the lab, making sure to keep track of the cadets’ safety.

After finishing, some cadets stuck around to make sure the squads were enjoying themselves.

“During my first time, I was actually scared of heights,” Maranan said. “But now I’m good. You learn to trust yourself and your equipment.”

During the ROTC lab, the cadets not only learned about trusting themselves and their equipment, but also others.

“It was a good exercise to have so they can trust in their training, equipment and the other cadet at the end of the rope,” Dosier said. “But they’re mostly focused on the fun of repelling down a 40-foot wall.”