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Selected DCA Clubs

By Erika Norton, WPAOG staff

There are 138 Directorate of Cadet Activities Extracurricular Clubs, each contributing to leader development within the Corps of Cadets. Here are some highlighted clubs selected for us by the DCA Club team.

Academic: DEBATE FORUM

Sponsored by the Department of Social Sciences, the Debate Team is considered to be a “Dean’s Team.” In 1946, the team hosted the first National Debate Tournament, and has been an institution at West Point ever since. The team spends hours preparing arguments by researching supporting evidence from a multitude of resources, refining their rhetorical skills, and excelling within the Corps, with many members receiving both academic and military awards for their leadership. The Debate Team competes against other colleges and universities at tournaments across the country. Every member of the team understands that the policies they discuss will directly affect their lives as officers in the U.S. Army.

Competitive Sports: BOXING TEAM

The goal of the Army West Point Club Boxing Team is to assist the Academy in the development of the next generation of “Officer Warrior Leaders of Character.” The team—consisting of 24 women and 60 men—travels throughout the United States to compete with other university members of the National Collegiate Boxing Association, including the Naval and Air Force academies. Boxers embrace the challenge of defeating their opponents in the ring and work hard, often giving up both regular and long weekends to ensure they are physically and psychologically prepared to be victorious. Members train throughout the academic year and have amassed a combined 10 collegiate championships in the last 12 years. This year’s graduating class helped the team win the national championship the past three years in a row. Boxing OIC Major John Borman said, “There is no doubt that our team would have won the national championship again this year if it had not been canceled due to the coronavirus.”

Diversity: NATIONAL SOCIETY OF BLACK ENGINEERS

Founded in 1975, the National Society of Black Engineers includes more than 394 college, pre-college, and technical professional/alumni chapters worldwide. NSBE’s mission is "to increase the number of culturally responsible Black Engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and positively impact the community." The West Point chapter, active since 1997, strives to raise the interest of the USMA community in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and serves as a resource for cadets from historically underrepresented groups. With a strong membership of over 90 cadets, the group offers leadership training, professional development activities, mentoring, and community service opportunities. This year, the West Point chapter attended the Zone Fall Conference, Regional Fall Conference, and Black Engineer of the Year Award STEM Conference. Cadets facilitate additional workshops for the NSBE Jr. students during conferences. Cadets also competed in a collegiate debate with other NSBE chapters.

Hobby: ALPINE SKI TEAM

The West Point Alpine/Freestyle Ski Team is a cadet-driven organization that develops leaders of character through teamwork, self-discipline, and the will to win. The team provides an environment for cadet athletes to develop their snow sport skills while maintaining a focus on leader development. The Alpine/ Freestyle Team represents USMA in regional and national competitions as a member of the United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association (USCSA).

Military: COMBAT WEAPONS TEAM

The West Point Combat Weapons Team develops competent leaders of character through the medium of live fire training events, the mentorship of fellow cadets in the employment of small arms, and by competing in local and regional small arms competitions. Each year the club gets 50-90 candidates vying for approximately five open slots on the team. The team uses a combination of physical challenges and psychological performance examinations to assess each candidate’s ability to rapidly rise to the level of leadership within a small group, whether or not they follow instructions well, what distinctive quality they bring to the team, and what valuable skill sets they can add to the team. From marksmanship basics to shooting on the move, team members learn to increase the hard mechanical skill of operating a pistol from experts such as the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team, the Mid-South Institute of Self Defense Shooting, and various municipal and state SWAT teams.

Religious: GOSPEL CHOIR

The West Point Gospel Choir originated as a satellite group of the Cadet Chapel Choir in 1974 with four dedicated members. After more than 30 years of service and performances, the choir has lived up to its newest motto "Praise First, Sing Second!" Throughout the years, the Cadet Gospel Choir has performed for numerous organizations, community churches and congregations, and served as ambassadors for the Academy. Their efforts bridge Academy support, diversity, and religious initiatives for the Corps of Cadets. Members have sung at Army- Navy football games, the Apollo Theatre, the WPAOG Diversity Leadership Conference, General (Retired) Lloyd Austin's ‘75 Thayer Hotel room dedication, the McDonald Conference for Leaders of Character, the NAACP Freedom Luncheon, the funeral of Lieutenant General (Retired) John "Jack" Cushman ‘44, and multiple Inspire Dinners for the USMA Directorate of Admissions. Members also participate in outreach efforts to high schools across the East Coast, as well as on mission trips and humanitarian relief efforts abroad.

Most Cadet Participants: CREW TEAM

The Crew Team started in 1986, and has been rowing on the Hudson River and competing on the East Coast ever since. As part of the American Collegiate Rowing Association, the more than 60-member team has two major seasons and competes in three to five races each season. After the fall season, the crew engages in an intensive strength and endurance winter training program. The winter training season culminates in a weeklong training event over spring break on the banks of Lake Hartwell in Clemson, South Carolina. After spring break, the team competes every weekend from the end of March through the second week in May, culminating at the Dad Vail National Championship Regatta in Philadelphia. In its 34-year program history, the team has claimed numerous national, regional, and state-level titles while producing professional, competent leaders and officers of character. The team trains at the Caulfield Crew and Sailing Center at West Point, a gift of the late Frank Caulfield ’62.

Newest Club: ESPORTS

Army West Point Esports, the newest DCA club, comprised of 10 competitive electronic gaming cadets, is leading the West Point Military Academy's journey into the exciting world of electronic sports. Esports competitions are usually set up as a traditional sporting event, but in the gaming competition world, live multiplayer action is projected onto screens for the audience to watch as opposing teams compete virtually. The Army West Point Esports Club was recognized as an official club in January 2020. Deputy Director of the West Point Simulation Center Victor Castro helped cadets build their gaming environment infrastructure, which currently offers top-of-the-line PC software and gameplay technology. And while other spring 2020 sports seasons were cut short due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Esports season was able to continue. The team is part of the Collegiate Rainbow Six League, made up of 140 collegiate teams that compete in head-to-head matches of Tom Clancy’s “Rainbow Six Siege.” They also hosted a “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” tournament for the West Point community.

Longest Legacy: EQUESTRIAN TEAM

largest indoor arena in the world at the time (now Thayer Hall), representing West Point’s commitment to and emphasis on equestrian training. In total, 40 West Point graduates have gone on to become Olympic riders, including General George S. Patton, Class of 1909, (shown above, right), who competed in the Olympics’ first modern pentathlon in 1912. Although riding is no longer part of the cadet curriculum, the Army West Point Equestrian Team keeps this integral part of West Point’s history alive. The team provides a life skill to cadets and develops leadership, commitment, caring, teamwork and discipline in the often dangerous and highly difficult art of equestrian sports, while providing a friendly environment that enhances the West Point experience. Cadets on the team regularly compete in the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association, which attracts over 400 colleges and nearly 8,000 riders nationwide. Cadets have won the coveted Cacchione Cup, while placing at regional competitions, zones and nationals. Individual cadets compete at the national level. Cadets ride at every level of competition, from beginner to the most advanced, and the team participates in both Western and English Hunt Seat Equitation. The new General Crosbie E. Saint Equestrian Center will open this fall, a Margin of Excellence facility supported by many graduates and friends of West Point.

Support: SPIRIT GROUP

The Army Spirit Support Group is a collection of cadet-run clubs at West Point whose mission is to "Fire up the Corps" and cheer the United States Corps of Cadets "On To Victory.” The club aims to inspire, motivate and support the United States Corps of Cadets and Army fans in all extracurricular activities, sporting events and spirit rallies. Go Army!

Most difficult to join: PARACHUTE TEAM

The mission of the storied West Point Parachute Team, which began in 1958, is to educate, train, and inspire cadets to develop leadership skills and build self-confidence in an in extremis context. Cadets join the Parachute Team during their plebe year and train six days a week with coaches from West Point's Department of Military Instruction. The 36-member team competes at the national and collegiate level in several parachuting and skydiving disciplines, provides demonstrations for the Academy and the surrounding community, and jumps the game ball into Michie Stadium for every Army home football game. On afternoons at West Point, the team can be seen practicing jumping onto the Plain. Many parachute team members go on to become Army helicopter pilots and paratroopers, and even NASA astronauts.

Printed in West Point magazine, Summer 2020, all rights reserved.

https://www.pageturnpro.com/West-Point-Association-of-Graduates/95909-West-Point-Magazine-Summer-2020/sdefault.html#page/50