Virginia Tech cadets face tough obstacles in first week

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BLACKSBURG (WSLS 10) - The Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets welcomes one of the largest freshmen classes in years this week, by running them through some pretty tough tests. All 350 are facing their fears on the obstacle course which for most is a difficult first lesson.

Before Cadets at Virginia Tech can excel at the obstacle course, they must learn from some mistakes.

"A lot of kids don't come in here with the kind of confidence that you need to succeed in the military," said Blake Armstrong, one of the instructors.

Despite the challenge, there is no shortage of can-do attitude this week, as cadets learn what it means to be a part of the Corps.

"I came to Virginia Tech solely to be a part of the Corps of Cadets and improve myself in order to become the best army infantry officer I can possibly be," said freshman Skyler Betancourt.

"I was very excited when I heard there was an obstacle course sir. Not only is there an opportunity to take a break from what we've been working on every day, it's an opportunity for us to show cadre are we can train physically and work together with our buds to complete each obstacle," echoed fellow freshman Paul Bourdon.

So they go hand-over-hand on the monkey bars. They balance on logs and scramble through the course as best they can.

But the ropes and repelling seem to offer the biggest challenges.

"When I get a kid that's nervous the main thing to tell them just to calm down relax and listen to me. We're not here to yell at you. We're not here to punish you. We're here to help you with the tower. So when I get a kid who is nervous, I just tell him look at me don't look down breathe and 99% of the time it really helps out.

From a 2 foot wall to a 20 foot wall and then one 40 feet high -- the repelling wall builds confidence and self-esteem as well as discipline and a sense of teamwork born in encouragement from other members of the Corps.

And when they get it - it's catching.

"Once you get over the 20 foot you're pretty confident and you want to do a little more on the 40 foot. It feels pretty great and I can only tell it's a precursor to the great things I want to do as a cadet," said Brendan Huynh.

Though they may not realize it, this course is like their first test in college. No books. No studying. But a chance to learn how to trust, encourage and get beyond whatever might be between themselves… and success.

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