On April 27, the Smith-Cotton JROTC Drill Team departed Sedalia to compete at the All-Service National High School Drill Championship in Daytona Beach, Florida.
Upon their arrival Thursday, the drill team was able to enjoy some time on the beach. Friday morning, the drill team put in a few hours of practice time, preparing for their big competition Saturday.
“We were really focused on what we were doing during practice,” said Cadet Lt. Col. Kaitlyn Brown. “The team was focused on winning the national championship.”
After a long morning of practice, it was time to relax so the cadets, instructors and parent chaperones enjoyed an afternoon on the beach.
Cadet Pfc. Kayla Archambault had never seen the ocean before her trip to Daytona Beach.
“The hot sand felt so good between my toes,” Archambault said. “My favorite part about the beach was riding the waves with my team.”
To reward the cadets for their hard work throughout the year, the instructors planned a special surprise for Friday evening. The cadets loaded the bus without any idea of where they would be going.
Their first stop was dinner on the pier at Crabby Joe’s Restaurant. It was an awesome experience because they could see the beach and the waves while they were eating.
After dinner, the cadets were reminded that their trip to the beach wasn’t just fun and games. The team pulled up into an empty parking lot for one final practice before competition day.
After practice, the team gathered for a motivational talk from the instructors. Everyone was determined to win.
Competition day arrived and the team was ready to claim the title of National Champions.
Competition was very intense, with 26 of the top unarmed drill teams representing the Marine Corps, Army, Air Force, and Navy JROTC programs coming to Florida from around the country.
The competition consisted of four unarmed events: exhibition, regulation, color guard, and inspection.
Before taking the floor for each event, the team motivated each other.
That motivation transferred to the drill floor and was evident in the results the team received: Inspection (first place), Color Guard (first place), Exhibition (first place), Regulation (fifth place), and were named the Overall National Unarmed Drill Team Champions.
“I couldn’t believe that we finally won after four years of being on the drill team. I’m so proud of my team and for their hard work and dedication,” said Cadet Maj. Daryna Matsyokha, senior drill team member and commander.
Upon their arrival at the hotel that evening, the National Champions were rewarded with a certificate, medal, T-shirt, team photo, and a Nationals patch, along with hearty congratulations from the instructors.
The next morning the team traveled to Orlando, Florida, to enjoy a day at Sea World. The team, instructors and parents enjoyed watching the shows, riding rides and seeing all of the attractions.
On their way back to Daytona Beach, the cadets enjoyed ice cream and a long nap.
Once again back at the hotel, the instructors said they had something special planned. The team got ready for more beach time and enjoyed the waves until the sunset. Once it was dark, the instructors revealed their surprise: a fire pit complete with all the supplies needed for s’mores.
“I had never been to a bonfire or anything, so it was cool to have that experience with my team, ” Cadet Staff Sgt. Yoana Nandho said. “I had never had a s’more before, either, so I didn’t expect them to be so messy; it was really good and I liked it.”
Once again, the Smith-Cotton JROTC Drill Team is excited to bring another national championship home to Sedalia.
This is the drill team’s third national title.
Release courtesy of Smith-Cotton JROTC