Guard the Field brings students and Vikings together
BLOOMINGTON, Minn. - Pfc. Cody Raatz, a member of the Albert Lea High School football team, never imagined he would be playing football at the Minnesota Vikings' Winter Park training facility with some of his favorite professional football players.
"You don't get many opportunities to meet the football players you watch on TV," Raatz said. "Let alone have the chance to throw a ball around with them."
Raatz was just one of a group of high school students from across the state who participated in the Minnesota National Guard's annual "Guard the Field" event Jan. 12, 2013. The event provided a unique opportunity for the high school athletes to meet some of their role models.
The day started with a panel of players offering advice and answering questions, followed by running drills on the field.
"The biggest piece of advice I have to give to these kids is don't be that guy they say could have made it; be the guy who makes it. Keep yourself motivated and always give 100 percent," shared Vikings wide receiver Jerome Simpson.
Raatz sees his decision to join the Minnesota National Guard as a way to reach his 100 percent. "Basic training changed me," he said. "I know now about how much potential I do have. In ten weeks you can really learn a lot about yourself."
His family and friends have seen the changes too. "A lot of my friends are pretty amazed that I enlisted so young and actually went to basic training. Most have said that I came back a different person. I'm pretty proud of that," Raatz explained.
"Being in the Army is a lot like football," Raatz continued. "Basic training is 30 percent physical and 70 percent mental. It's also about working as a team with your fellow Soldiers to get the job done."
That is a sentiment shared by Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen. "The game's mostly mental. You need to start with the basics, build your team and put in a lot of hard work to make it," he advised the students.
"You reap what you sow in football and the National Guard," Raatz stated. "In football you lift weights, run, practice, etc. in hopes of winning games. The coach guides you. In basic training your drill sergeants give you the tools you need and teach you to use them. It's up to you to put them to use. If you want to succeed you will. In the National Guard it's all about how hard you work and how well you do your job that determines how far you can go."
Each year the Recruiting and Retention Battalion hosts the "Guard the Field" event. Staff Sgt. Dajon Ferrell explained the mission as an opportunity for the Minnesota National Guard and the Minnesota Vikings to teach teamwork and dedication to the group of students. "'Guard the Field' gives them the opportunity to pay if forward to the next generation," she explained.
Jan. 12, 2013
Staff Sgt. Danielle Eineke
34th Red Bull Infantry Division Public Affairs
Posted: 2014-04-16 10:36 AM CAMP RIPLEY, Minn.- Nine Minnesota Army National Guard Soldiers competed in the 2014 Minnesota National Guard Best Warrior Competition Apr 9-13, 2014.
Each Soldier and Noncommissioned Officer from the five major Army National Guard organizations within the State of Minnesota were selected by their leadership for their tactical and technical skills.
"Warriors selected to compete for these prestigious titles have mastered a series of benchmarks throughout the year to qualify for the Minnesota National Guard Best Warrior Competition," said Army Command Sergeant Major, Cynthia Kallberg.
Posted: 2014-04-15 03:54 PM ST. PAUL, Minn.- April is the Month of the Military Child. On the morning of Tuesday, April 17, Minnesota's military-connected youth were honored for the first time at the State Capitol Rotunda in St. Paul, to celebrate the fourth annual "Purple Up!" day. This was an opportunity to call attention to military kids who endure special challenges when a parent serves in the Armed Forces. Event attendees wore the color purple, to symbolize all branches of the military, as a fun way to show support.
Purple Up! is a nation-wide effort initiated by Operation Military Kids. The recognition reinforces that military-connected youth play an integral role in supporting their Service member. The event was supported locally by a variety of community members and special guests to include; Governor Mark Dayton, Maj. Gen. Richard Nash, the Adjutant General of the Minnesota National Guard and committed civic leader Terri Popp, President of the Minnesota Military Family Tribute. They all acknowledged the resilience that military-connected youth embody, and offered a heartfelt thank you.
Posted: 2014-04-14 08:39 AM FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
ST. PAUL, Minn. - Military families and supporters are gathering at the State Capitol Rotunda in St. Paul Tuesday morning in recognition of military youth on national "Purple Up!" day.
The program, which begins at 9 a.m. will include: recognition from The Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Richard Nash; a presentation of the Governor's letter to a child whose parent is deployed; and a ground breaking announcement from the Minnesota Military Family Tribute.