SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Take a drive past Benedictine Military School and you might see it peeking out between the trees. A 12-foot wall with the word ‘Cadets’ painted on the front. It welcomes people to campus, but also serves a greater purpose.
“You don’t know what to expect until you do it,” junior Haddon Watson said with a grin as he laced up his boots.
The massive structure is also a climbing wall — part of the Benedictine “Raider Team”‘s obstacle course. Before we go any further, what is a Raider Team?
“From running with equipment to obstacle courses and building rope bridges to get across a river,” Raider Team commander Alec Ramsey said. “The easiest way I can explain it is a military-tailored competition team.”
Introduced as a sport at Benedictine six years ago, the Raider Team used to train by lifting tires and running laps around the campus. Over the years, the team members and their families decided to build their own obstacles to better prepare them for competitions.
“I just enjoyed being around the people and the sport and, when I got home everyday, I was sore but I knew that I got a hard day of work in,” Raider Team executive officer Jeremiah Celestin explained. “It was really rewarding to be a part of this family we have here.”
The one-mile course surrounding Benedictine’s campus is now been outfitted with pull-up bars, tire tunnels, walls and pits for the team to build rope bridges across. If you can believe it, the guys tackle these taxing workouts and training sessions with smiles on their faces.
“They push me to my limits to run faster, get stronger and it’s just an amazing experience to get better with all the people around you,” Raider Team command sergeant major Gabe Tvrdy said. “All the people that are your friends.”
The Cadets recently finished fourth out of seventy eight teams at the 2021 Raider Nationals. Pair that with the four consecutive region championships to their name and one thing is abundantly clear.
The Cadets are just getting started.
“It’s really hard for me to wrap my head around because, in a sport that not a lot of people know about, it’s like you are the first person to do it,” Watson, who finished eighth in the individual ‘Ultimate Raider’ competition this past weekend. “Especially in this Savannah area, it feels different than other sports.”
The trophies, which they have plenty of, are nice. The guys will be the first to tell you, however, that this team has always been focused on bigger tasks. They want to show this sport has a bright future in southeast Georgia, while creating an inseparable bond in the process.
“We really embrace brotherhood and being friends and being nice to everyone [at Benedictine],” Celestin added. “People embraced us and they embraced what made ‘us’ us. This sports has made me and a lot of people here.”
“I love the sport,” Ramsey said with a smile. “I’m really happy and I feel like I wouldn’t have been able to get through high school or at least how I did these last four years — it’s honestly changed my life in so many ways.”