Discussion in 'Publicly and Privately Funded Military Colleges' started by Packer, Jul 14, 2011.
Are freshman allowed to participate in IC athletics at VMI?
Yes. They typcially will not compete in club sports during the Rat line, but they are on NCAA teams as Rats
That is good to know. My son is a precision shooter and would like to continue at VMI if that is where he ends up going to school but we were under the impression that freshman could not compete.
Rats can do NCAA sports. There is, or at least used to be, a bit of friction between NCAA athletes (dubbed "permits") and the rest of the Corps. Usually, it stems from the perception that the permits do not have as difficult of a Ratline as their non-NCAA counterparts. Note that I said "perception." The reality is that NCAA athletes get dogged at practice while the other Rats are doing Rat Challenge or other physical activities. Unfortunately, the rest of the Corps doesn't see that, so there tends to be an attitude that the permits are getting out of stuff (or, in VMI vernacular, are "worming" out of stuff). There are other things as well, like NCAA Rats eat dinner with their team as opposed to with Cadre, and in-season athletes often are excused from things like parades. The perception is that the NCAA Rats have an easier time in the Mess Hall (which tends to be pretty stressful), and again, there is perhaps a general attitude that the permits have an overall less difficult time with the BS that is daily life as a Rat.
I'd venture to say that the reality is quite different than the perception, but that maybe there is, as with many stereotypes, at least some modicum of truth to bolster the negative image. Football Rats have intense practices, no doubt. So do Basketball and Track Rats. Golf and Rifle Rats....well, maybe not so much. I'm sure rifle shooting is difficult, mind you, it's just not necessarily the most physically demanding sport. As long as your son is prepared to catch a little sh!t from his Cadre (or perhaps more than a little), he can participate on the Rifle Team and will do fine. The upperclassmen on the Rifle Team will be good mentors for him (and maybe his Dyke will be on the Rifle Team).
Interestingly, and this is purely anecdotal, I often noticed that there were a ton of Rats on the Rifle Team, and not so many upperclassmen (there were a few, of course). Granted, the natural course of attrition takes its toll; however, one couldn't help but notice several former Rifle Rats who, upon getting the freedom to be less active as an upperclassman, all of the sudden decide to drop the sport (non-NCAA/non-club upperclassmen, in my day, only had to do a mandatory "personal workout" twice a week). It doesn't hold true in all cases by any stretch, and I don't mean to point out anything except from where the negative perception can originate. I think it's just something to keep in mind.
If your son wants to shoot on the Rifle Team, he most definitely should.
Sprog, Thanks. That is good information. The perception deal is similar to what he has been told at the academies. He would like to shoot at the collegiate level and thinks he will be competitive. The bigger thing is he wants to earn a commission. We will see if he can do it all.
There is still a bit of tension between athletes and non-athletes, but it's getting better. The "worming" phenomenon is largely an individual thing, but the attitudes of individual athletes are typically affected most by their teammates.
Things could be changing now, but when I was there, the Rifle Team rats probably had a harder Ratline than the non-athletes. Some of the NCAA teams work really hard to beat the stereotypes--the Rifle Team, Swim Team, and Wrestling Team all come to mind.
When the Rifle Team does PT, they don't mess around. They have to be in shape in order to be able to work the breathing control and pulse rate stuff, in addition to carrying all their equipment around.
My First Class year, it got to the point where the Co-Captains (my classmates) told the Seconds and Thirds that they weren't allowed to PT the rats during practice anymore, because they were being unprofessional and just running the rats into the ground instead of focusing on helping them get in shape. They were trying too hard to disprove the stereotypes.
The Rifle and Swim Team rats have the hardest Resurrection Week (the week leading up to Breakout), hands down. And I say this as someone who never played on an NCAA team.
Jackie M. Briski '09
First Class PVT (Ret.)
Just finishing my rat year with two NCAA roomates, I agree with what has already been said to some degree. The ratline is really what you make of it; some of the people at VMI solely for the purpose of playing their respective sport sink into the "permit" stereotype that starts to manifest itself in various ways (i.e. uniform appearance). Don't be suprised when your BR's start giving you a hard time because you get to do something that you love while they are training. More than a couple times I would tell my roomates "CTT was pretty bad today, huh...oh wait, you weren't there." But it was all in good fun. And remember, the class of 2012's Regimental First Captain (the highest ranking cadet at VMI) is a non-comissioning Wrestling permit.
The Wrestling Team works really hard to beat the stereotypes. Pretty sure they were represented in more high profile Corps leadership positions than any other team while I was there... Honor Court, GC, RDC officers, battalion commanders, and now a Reg. CO.
The Rifle Team is a little more low profile, although I'm pretty sure one of the Battalion XOs for the Class of 2010 was on the Rifle Team.
The only time I've ever known members of the Rifle Team to catch crap during the Ratline was when they walked-on the team with very little experience. Packer, it sounds like your son will be fine, because he has experience and skill to back it up. As long as he works hard in other areas, he should be fine.
Once he does really well in a match or two, his Cadre will probably leave him alone. The Cadre are the guys whose entire reason for existing at VMI is to train the rats, so they get really frustrated when NCAA rats miss Cadre Training Time for practice and then do nothing to try to get up to speed on what they missed. This often manifests itself in sloppy uniforms, crappy marching, and failed room inspections. The Cadre's frustration is only exacerbated when the rat doesn't perform well on the team.
Some teams, unfortunately, overtly or covertly encourage the kind of negative behavior mentioned above. But they aren't all like that. If your son does start slacking off and being disrespectful, he'd better hope that the upperclassmen on the Rifle Team don't find out.
Rats fully participate in club hockey (assuming they make the team) from the start in early Sept.
Thanks everybody. All the perspectives are great. He was initially pretty concerned that he wouldn't be able to compete as a rat and would lose a whole year. I think he is willing to put up with whatever he has to in order to compete. He makes it clear that his top priority is a degree and commission but he wants to shoot also.
I found this string to be very interesting. If my son ends up attending VMI he plans on wrestling. He has wrestled since he was 5 years old. I have never attended a VMI wrestling practice but I am betting that no one is getting any slack cut to them when they are competing on an NCAA D-1 wrestling team, especially at a senior military school. I am guessing its probably harder than most. Wrestling is a pretty tough sport to begin with, as a matter of fact I may ruffle some feathers here but I am a football coach and I say wrestling is tougher than football. Now I will wait for the hisses and boos
I have no idea how they do it, but the wrestling team is the only one I'm aware of that somehow manages to fit two-a-days into the VMI schedule during wrestling season. Pretty sure they figured out how to add hours to the day, 'cause 24 can't possibly be enough.
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