Members from the University of Arizona Rugby team visited the 55th Rescue Squadron here, March 7 – 8.
The two-day visit was a part of the third annual Combat Wildcat event, where the players toured the 55th RQS and participated in team building exercises.
Similar to basic military training, the main goal of Combat Wildcat is to teach the players to think and work as a team. It also gives them an idea of the 55th RQS’s mission.
“The objective of Combat Wildcat is to show the U of A rugby team what we do as a rescue unit, what we do here at Davis-Monthan specifically, how we work with the local community and to teach teamwork and leadership,” said Tech. Sgt. Jamin Rendon, 55th
RQS HH-60G Special Mission Aviator.
The players were given a tour of the 55th RQS and treated to a static display of an HH-60G Pave Hawk Helicopter. The display provided equipment, helicopter pilots and
Pararescuemen for the players to interact with.
“Seeing the helicopters, realizing how massive they really are and talking to the pilots was really crazy,” said University of Arizona rugby player David Spencer. “The gear that they display is really cool and everything but it’s not every day that you get to sit in the cockpit of a helicopter.”
55th RQS members and the rugby players went on to set up camp on the south side of D-M. The two groups gathered around a bonfire to converse and become better acquainted.
“Most of the players liked the bonfire and storytelling,” Rendon said. “Everyone got to know each other and found common ground to bond with. It was also a great part for us as team leaders and mentors because we got to show them who we are off the job and how we carry ourselves. Not only as Air Force professionals, but friends off-duty as well.”
The players also got a chance to show what they were made of during a surprise 1:00 a.m wake up at the campsite. The team ran one mile to a clearing carrying 90-foot-long ropes that were soaked in water the previous day. They broke into smaller groups and participated in a tug-of-war tournament.
“The tug-of-war was really fun because it’s a team bonding thing,” Spencer said. “You have to get together and pull as a team. Competing is always fun and of course you get to brag a little bit to your teammates.”
The late night rope-run and the tug-of-war were not the last of the team-building exercises the rugby team would face during their trip here. They learned how to navigate unfamiliar terrain during a mock search and rescue exercise.
“The players demonstrated their understanding of teamwork during the land navigation when one team overtook another, but instead of passing them, they helped each other cross the finish line together,” Rendon said.
The players grew more and more conscious of their teammates as well as their surroundings during the land navigation. Even the younger players began to hold teamwork to a higher value.
“We showed the freshmen how and why leadership is so important and how to develop as one unit,” Rendon said. “We had the youngest on my team take the lead during the land nav and we showed him how to pull his team together, how to inspire them, and how to get everyone moving toward a common goal. These are all the traits that every player has seen and will demonstrate on the field.”