On Her Way To RMC: Coach Plays Leading Role

The following article concerns a “recruited student-athlete” – (w) soccer who is due to attend RMC and “march through the Arch” as an ROTP officer cadet with the Class of 2013.

Lindsay Cross, is from Chilliwack, BC and plays club soccer for the Chilliwack Soccer Club. RMC (W) Head Coach, Chad Beaulieu (L) has personally been working relentlessly to help Lindsay get an ROTP offer since March 2008 – more than 16 months ahead of her post-secondary education start.

The effort by Chad is a classic example of what it takes for an RMC varsity coach to attract elite level athletes to the college and for these athletes to be successful in the formal selection process.

Well done, Coach Beaulieu

Chilliwack Progress

By: Katie Robinson

Lindsay Cross chats with soldiers at the Mt. Slesse Demolition Range.

The alarm clock’s incessant beeping jolts Lyndsay Cross from bed. The glowing red digits read 7:00 but her internal clock says it’s o-seven-hundred hours.

She grabs her soccer clothes, the warmest gear in her closet, and layers up in a long-sleeve shirt, a sweater, a jacket and track pants. She stuffs even more layers into her backpack – there’s a dusting of snow on the ground and she has to be prepared.

Cross is going to be a soldier for a day.

SHOCK & AWE

When Cross, a Grade 12 student at Chilliwack secondary school, was asked to participate in the school district’s first-ever Soldier-for-a-Day work experience, she was quick to say yes.

Earlier this month Cross was accepted into the Royal Military College (RMC) in Kingston, Ont. but had no real idea of what she was getting herself into. She has never crawled through barbed wire, marched through muddy fields in boots, or eaten k-rations. She never thought she would be attending military college. She only applied on a whim.

After researching numerous universities and talking with a friend who had started at RMC last fall, the avid soccer player knew she did not want to sit in a classroom and stare at a whiteboard for days on end – she’d been doing that for 12 years already. She wanted excitement, athleticism and education.

RMC offered all three and promised to pay for her education as long as she committed to five years of military service following her schooling.

Cross thought it was win-win.

Her parents were shocked.

Her mom’s eyes nearly popped out of their sockets at the announcement. Some friends thought she was joking, most thought she was crazy. But Cross paid them no attention, she was sure that this is what she wanted to do.

She hoped that being a soldier for a day would be further proof to her, and maybe to others too.

BOOM

O-nine-hundred hours. Cross arrives at the base.

Four other students, one from Chilliwack secondary, two from Sardis secondary, are there too, as well as two soldiers. She’s the only girl.

The group is briefed on safety: “Don’t touch anything,” the commanding officer warns.

She signs a waiver, then boards a van en route to the Slesse demolition range off Chilliwack Lake Road, 20 kilometres up from the river. There, they meet up with the Chilliwack Reserve Crew, a post made up of approximately 40 real soldiers – some who have just returned from tours of duty in Afghanistan.

The soldiers, all dressed in camouflaged fatigues, are already putting together explosives for demolitions training. Eight bars of C4 explosive, looking like bars of black gold, are wrapped together and tied around large cement blocks, logs and wooden frames with long, yellow cords that later act as fuses.

Cross squeezes her body right next to the soldier wrapping the explosives together. Even though the other students are silent around her, Cross asks question after question.

“How are you going to blow them up?”

“What kind of explosives are you using?”

“Why are you blowing them up?”

The yellow fuse is lit; they run to the bunker, a thousand metres away.

The protective glass in the bunker’s windows has been shot out; the students are ordered to crouch down against the wall, to ensure flying debris doesn’t hit them.

A soldier counts down.

“10, 9, 8, 7, 6 …”

BOOM!

A boxed lunch sitting on the windowsill goes flying. Cross can feel her whole body vibrate, right down into the depths of her belly; she’s temporarily deafened but doesn’t flinch – she doesn’t even blink.

This isn’t so bad, she thinks, I could totally do this.

BUTTERFLIES

Thirteen-hundred hours, Cross arrives at the rappelling site where soldiers are busy fastening ropes around two trees situated on either side of the creek, creating an aerial crossing, which is used in battles to cross obstacles such as canyons. One soldier, wearing a harness, clips a pulley onto the ropes and slides across.

Cross watches with silent envy – she wants to be the one sliding across the creek. But due to safety concerns, she was told well before the day that she would not be allowed to rappel across. Instead, she talks to the soldiers around her, asking as many questions as she can, getting ready for the day when she, too, will be able to clip in and take off.

One soldier just got back from his second tour in Afghanistan. He tells her about all the advances and positive improvements Canadian troops were making. He tells her he would definitely go back a third time.

Another soldier tells her that joining the reserves was the best decision he has ever made: He’s working, going to school and learning valuable skills.

At seventeen-hundred hours, when Cross is given her dismissal orders back at 54 Engineer Squadron, there’s a mile-wide smile on her face and butterflies in her belly.

She goes home more excited about her future than when she arrived.

She doesn’t want to wait four months for school to start.

One Comment

  • S. Lannan

    June 1, 2009 at 10:32 am

    I remember my brother (16455 Tim Lannan (RMC ‘88)) being relentlessly recruited for the RMC Hockey Team by then coach Dr. Wayne Kirk and escorted through the recruiting process by Bill Oliver. Bill was also helpful in assisting both of my sons (now playing volleyball and basketball) wade through the process almost 20 years later!

    It is not enough for a coach to want an athlete, the athlete has to want RMC and I have found that high schools are very reluctant to show this as an option to students. The current recruiting process also does not help to show the benefits of RMC athletics and education. If not for the benefits that my sons saw through my brother they may never have considered RMC as an option. Had I not gone through the process with one son, the second would probably still be lost in recruiting centre red tape. We had to hound them to do his interview in order to have his file completed in time for the RMC selection process.

    I agree with the author. “Well done, Coach Beaulieu.”

    However, I believe that all teams and coaches could benefit from the help of someone who’s sole purpose is to assist potential student-athletes. The coaches may find the athletes, but most do not have the intimate knowledge of how the recruiting/selection process is done that is required to get an ROTP offer and it leaves the athlete (and their parents) dealing with the red tape on their own.

    Good luck Lindsay!