The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The Correspondent: Freshmen cadets find fun, friends through Fish Drill Team

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Introducing The Correspondent

One of the defining, considerably essential, foundations of Texas A&M and its resplendent culture is the Corps of Cadets. Their legacy and reputation have cemented themselves as the backbone of not just the school, but The Battalion as well. Here at The Battalion, we wanted to give back to the Corps members who supported and gave way to the creation of our weekly publication by giving the voice back to the Corps. With this column, Aggies get to have the chance to create stories for the Corps, by the Corps. 

Fish Drill Team: Explained

On Monday afternoon, Feb. 6, sounds of combat boots slapping the ground echoed across the Quad. The block of about 65 freshmen cadets come running through, holding rifles and donning shiny black helmets, soon to reach Haney Drill Field where 12 advisors wearing white shirts joined them. At 4:30 p.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, this cycle is repeated. 

The Fish Drill Team, originally founded in 1947, was created to promote unity and military precision at Texas A&M. Based on the Marine Corps Drill, what makes this elite unit unique is its entire assembly of all freshmen cadets, or “fish.”

This sight might bewilder those unfamiliar with the drill team, whether it be passers-by or residents who live in the Commons. These dedicated cadets form the roster of this year’s Fish Drill Team.

Supply chain management sophomore Claire Cox, team advisor, said she and her fellow advisors pride themselves on taking freshmen who have never marched or drilled before and turning them into national champions in just four months.

“The Fightin’ Texas Aggie Fish Drill Team is a discipline-based drill team that works on improving drill and instilling obedience … while developing the skills of [our] freshmen,” Cox said. 

The freshmen are given opportunities to learn about accountability, leadership, working with others and communication. The drill team is unique because freshmen are given leadership opportunities, Cox said.

The team competes annually at the National Drill Competition at Tulane University against schools like West Point, the Naval Academy and Norwich University, consistently winning against these military schools for the past 12 years. General engineering sophomore Ronald Ridgeway, vice president of the Association of Former Fish Drill Team Members, shared his experience competing last year. 

“Tulane is an amazing, super intense experience as a freshman,” Ridgeway said. “You’ve been working so hard all year alongside your buddies and now y’all are finally given the chance to prove to the entire nation that you’re the best there is.” 

The team practices three to five times a week, an additional mock drill meet on Saturday mornings, general engineering freshman John Pokorny, fish commander of the unit, described the routine practice. 

“The team comes in and we take a couple of laps around Haney Drill Field,” Pokorny said. “Then we split off into our groups — regulation, squad, exhibition and color guard.”

Each group has a different focus: ‘regulation’ practices basic platoon Marine Corps drill, ‘squad’ focuses on precision drills, ‘color guard’ focuses on presenting the colors, i.e., U.S. and Texas Flag, and ‘exhibition’ practices modified drill. After practicing in their groups, the team goes to Duncan Dining Hall for dinner together, Pokorny said.

Pokorny said he is confident about the competition to come. 

“I think we are,” Pokorny said. “It’s one of those things where you’re not really sure but we’re going to rely on our training.” 

The team will represent A&M at the National Drill Competition this Friday, Feb. 17, where it will compete for their 13th consecutive title.

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