The Army ROTC program at University of the Cumberlands (UC) recently hosted Train Like a Patriot, a fitness event open to all Cumberlands students.

The ROTC cadets led students through a series of fitness stations such as short sprints, tire flips, burpees (in which students drop to the ground, do a pushup, then rise and leap into the air), weightlifting, crawling across a sand volleyball court, and more. Students received free Subway sandwiches, ice cream provided by Forcht Bank, and a free T-shirt for participating.

After, the cadets hosted The Toughest Patriot Challenge, in which competitors stepped over to Cumberlands’ Outdoor Fitness Court® and completed as many consecutive pull-ups as they could. This fall’s Toughest Patriots were Zalon Reynolds (junior; Chelsea, AL) with 23 pull-ups and Bridgette Duty (junior; Needville, TX) with 12 pull-ups. Reynolds is on the football team at Cumberlands, and Duty is a women’s wrestler. Both received a National Guard backpack as a prize.

The ROTC cadets were excited about the event.

“We started planning it four weeks ago, and today we got to finally do it,” said Carter Nelson, a junior cadet. “It’s a sigh of relief, being here today. Our biggest challenge was finding a time during the class day when students could come out and participate.”

Demetrius Owens, a freshman cadet, added, “I’m excited about this. I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time. I didn’t think this many people were actually going to come, but it seems like we’re really going to have some fun out here!” 

While Train Like A Patriot helped publicize ROTC’s presence to the cadets’ fellow students, it was also a class assignment for the cadets. Junior cadets planned and organized the event’s logistics while freshmen were in charge of facilitating the event, coaching and motivating their peers through the fitness stations.

As part of the ROTC curriculum, cadets meet with Major Stephen Moore, Assistant Professor of Military Science at Cumberlands, three days a week for classes. They actually meet twice on class days – once in the early morning for PT (physical training) and later in the day for classroom or “lab” work.

“I am extremely proud of these cadets. I’m honored to be here working with them,” said Maj. Moore. “The event serves as a practical exercise for cadets to understand how to prepare, plan, and execute. It’s a big assignment for the juniors especially as they get closer to becoming second lieutenants. This is the first event, so there has been a lot of coaching involved, but they have done very well with the assignment through the project as a whole.”

This is Maj. Moore’s first year as an ROTC professor. He took the assignment after being stationed as a Battalion Operations Officer in South Korea. It has been an enjoyable change of pace for him.

“It’s an opportunity to go out and see a different side of the Army, to get out and grow our leaders from the grassroots,” he said. “This group of cadets is extremely motivated. They’re extremely passionate and interested in pursuing this path, whether it be to ultimately commission within the Army or just be better leaders.”

Army ROTC re-launched at University of the Cumberlands this fall and already has more than double the number of cadets originally anticipated. Only eight were signed up in the beginning, but after the activities fair on campus, the class size rose to 22 – three juniors, one sophomore, and 18 freshmen.

Cadets Nelson and Owens have both enjoyed the ROTC program so far.

Cadet Nelson said, “Being part of ROTC has been great. Major Moore is a great teacher. It’s a learning process; it’s my first year ever being part of an ROTC program. It has great having this opportunity. It’s definitely a challenge, but who doesn’t like a challenge?”

“I had always wanted to be involved in something like ROTC, but I’d felt like it wasn’t for me,” said Cadet Owens. “When I got here, I thought, ‘I’ll give it a try,’ and I’ve liked it. I like the challenges and the fun you have with people that you didn’t know before. It helps you build your trust with other people.”

Another ROTC event is expected this spring.

Cumberlands’ ROTC program is open with rolling admission to all on-campus undergraduate freshmen, sophomores, and juniors. Juniors who wish to enroll must intend to join the Army and undergo additional training during the summer. For more information, visit