ROTC and D1 Track & Field?

Nov 15, 2019
Has anyone balanced D1 Track/Cross Country with ROTC? If so, what conflicts did this bring up? Did the coach mind it? Did you have to miss meets? I'm really curious to see if this is possible because I would love to dedicate myself to running track and doing ROTC.

Edit: I'm not expecting a blanket answer for all programs, but if someone could speak from experience that would be very helpful
If you dont want a blanket answer, would need to know

- which ROTC program
- which school

Otherwise, people aren't going to be able to answer specifically. And obviously, it will vary greatly depending upon the program and unit.
I think you might want to prioritize on your mind which is most important to you. As a distance runner you will very likely be a 3 season athlete (XC, indoor track, outdoor track). That is a major time commitment. ROTC is a big time commitment as well. It seems at times my DS majors in ROTC and school is secondary.

You might want to reach out to the coaching staff and the Derachment Cadre and talk about your situation. As an athlete you may be excused from PT training with the det but you will also miss out on the relationships that develop during that time. There will undoubtedly be conflicts between meets and det activities. That comes back to my original statement to determine which is most important and approach it from there. It can be done but will take determination on your part to make it happen.
I am sure it has been done but I am also sure it is highly unusual.

My DD was on a Big 10 Track & Field team for a few years. They started at the start of the fall semester and went into the summer (some of the bigger go into early summer. D1 is intense.

ROTC can also be very time consuming with weekend events and summer training.

There is a third aspect - your major which might require a lot of labs, evenings, group projects, etc.

I second the recommendation to speak to both the coaching staff and the Cadre.
A good friend of mine ran track at USMA for a year and then transferred out to an ivy league school where he nows runs track and does AROTC. He has told me that he only has time for track, school, and ROTC. He also often misses ROTC events like PT and Labs for practice so he ends up making them up on his own. He has told me he doesn't feel very connected with the battalion but wants to serve none the less and is willing to put up with it.
I would tell you from his anecdotes to consider one or the other, but he is also at an Ivy and has a very large workload. If you are able to run at an SA, it is a much better experience because they can handle the overlapping time commitments much more efficiently and you also wouldn't be alone.
Its tough to serve 2 masters, let alone 3.

You can always try though and quit one or the other if its too much. Unless you are a stone cold ringer, you'll be on a partial at best for running. Likely on little to nothing at many schools so may not be giving up much if you elect to drop running at some point.
Google ”marshal plumlee”. Played basketball at Duke, won a national championship, and earned a commission through Army ROTC. Recently graduated Ranger school too.
So I would not be discouraged - takes determination and good time management. Definitely speak to your ROO at the college at which you plan to do ROTC. My sense is most will welcome your participation and make allowances as athletes have a natural community in college which is especially important especially their first year. Most do very well academically - but do check. I see you are applying to federal academies. Realize all athletes at the federal academies are DI - NCAA athletes, and have to meet their academic and military duties as well. I have been involved with The Citadel for many years, and many of our NCAA DI athletes complete their sport, ROTC scholarship and academic degree programs and do well. I attach a couple of examples - one NROTC - MO who runs track and is a double major, and one who is on the Football team, majoring in Physics, and on an Army scholarship.
From a parents perspective, of having D1 track athlete at a service academy (and I believe it would be even more difficult at regular college in the sense that the school is t there to support your military demands as a SA does)....I would advise you to make your decisions “as if” you didn’t participate in track. There are many ‘hidden’, even intangible aspects that one cannot foresee. And you have no idea how that will play out for you. So don’t make decisions (ie which school to attend) based upon running track.

Many “what-if” scenarios have already been mentioned, but the biggest for my son was not being mentally able to commit to either program 100pct...track or company. It was mentally difficult, let alone physically. But the mental part was very challenging.

Im not saying it cannot be done. I would advise my own (and do) to not make decisions based upon the sport. I would say the same for someone attending a school only (no military). You have no idea what ‘WHO’ you will be out of the home, a new adult sprouting your adult wings. Signed on as a D1 on scholarship? They own you.

Best wishes, hope all your dreams come true!
My DD did DIV I Track as a preferred walk on (most track athletes do not receive full scholarships) and ROTC at a cross-town detachment. It can be done but is very dependent on the coach. It also takes an additional level of commitment from you as a student athlete and ROTC cadet. You have to be committed to doing extra work outside the normal program for each. The best story I can ever tell about a coach happened when she re-applied and was accepted to USMA the next year. She was terrified to tell her coach that she was leaving his program. It took her over a week to work up the nerve to have the talk with him. The Coaches response was something like "why are you crying, this is incredible news and we should all be celebrating". A coach that felt like that allowed her to do both things.
I imagine a lot of it depends on the program. Schools are D1 based on football and/or basketball. Their track program could be a focus or non-existent.

I think I have read on here from old posts where ROTC generally encourages athletics, but athletics may not encourage ROTC. Not sure if that is still valid, but it seems logical.
My daughter is a distance track athlete and she focused on D1 schools that she wanted to go to in her ROTC application and got selected for her top 3. However, once she started talking to the D1 coaches, she got a sense that D1 athletics and ROTC would not play very well together. As others have mentioned, as a distance runner, you never get a break as you are doing XC, indoor and outdoor seasons and still running all summer to stay in good shape for the upcoming XC season. So, what happened with my daughter is that she started considering other options and landed at a D3 school and it has been a great fit (this required a transfer, of course). She is the type that is involved in everything under the sun. In addition to ROTC and 3 varsity sports, she is in student government, a sorority, TA and works as a waitress on her lighter class day and when she can on weekends and holidays. So, she might have been able to balance ROTC, school and D1 sports if that was all she did but she wanted to get a broad college experience that went beyond that which is why she didn't go very far in pursuing a service academy option.

Whatever the case, make sure to have frank talks with both the coaches and ROTC about what their expectations are and what takes priority. With good information, you are better equipped to make the right decision for you.