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Air Force ROTC cadets competing in a portion of the combat fitness relays at the Nor Cal region games on Saturday, March 18, 2017, at Warmerdam Field. (Daniel Avalos/The Collegian)

Sports tournament challenges Air Force ROTC to be warriors

The Fresno State Air Force ROTC hosted San Jose State, Sacramento State and UC Berkeley for the annual Nor Cal co-ed region Warrior Challenge on Saturday.

The four schools competed in a sports tournament held in the South Gym and at Warmerdam Field. The events included basketball, ultimate disc, flag rugby and combat fitness relays.

“This event is our annual warrior challenge. It’s a Nor Cal (Northern California) tradition,” department chair Lt. Col. Kenneth Bourque said. “It goes back about 20 years with the four Nor Cal ROTC detachments. It’s a series of athletic competitions for a particular trophy that has been handed down for years.” 

Members of the Sacramento State, San Jose State, Fresno State and UC Berkeley Air Force ROTC detachments on Saturday, March 18, 2017, at Warmerdam Field. (Daniel Avalos/The Collegian)

The trophy itself has a special nickname from Bulldog cadets and cadre, which are an assembly of enlisted and active-duty Air Force officers and Fresno State staff. The trophy is referred to as “Petey” because, dating back to 2003, the ‘Dogs won the annual event consecutively until 2009. The term “repeat” was shortened to fit the nickname.

Each school fielded a team to play basketball early in the morning, ultimate disc after that, rugby in the afternoon and finally a combat fitness relay to finish the day.

The Fresno State AFROTC detachment boasts around 45-50 members, and approximately 30 cadets competed on Saturday, according to senior Cadet Vice Wing Commander LaVincha Wilbon.

“It’s for those who want to be apart of something bigger than themselves,” Wilbon said. “It makes you a better person.”

He said that other than bragging rights for a year and a trophy, the cadets earn valuable social experience and important qualities needed to succeed in the military.

Sacramento State won first place at the games, followed by San Jose State. UC Berkeley took third, and Fresno State placed last.

Although the ‘Dogs did not bring home the trophy at this year’s event, Wilbon said the camaraderie and leadership skills that the cadets develop through the event is the most important thing.

“It’s fun to come out and compete against fellow ROTC detachments,” Wilbon said. “We’re hanging out, enjoying the weather and music and eating some good food, too. So it’s just a lot of fun.”

The four school AFROTC detachments will meet again next year at San Jose State for the annual tournament. Fresno State will look to bring a “Petey” back to the Valley.