Fritz Impressed by Military Leadership

Traveling with the team's partner unit, Fort Riley's 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, Fritz spent a day in Ft. Irwin, California, learning how American soldiers prepare for war at the United States Army's National Training Center (NTC).
"I'm in awe of the leadership that takes place in the military," explained Fritz after returning from Ft. Irwin last week. "The leadership development, from start to finish, the teamwork that goes into it; they had to get 5,500 people moving in the same direction. It was very hard to come away from that experience and not have an enormous appreciation for our military and for these people. The leadership that goes into something of that magnitude, the preparation that they have going into a deployment; it was an extraordinary experience."
According to the NTC website, the mission the organization is to "conduct tough, realistic, unified land operations with unified action partners to prepare Brigade Combat teams and other units for combat while taking care of soldiers, civilians and family members."
The program prepares soldiers for deployment while developing them as leaders who are qualified to make decisions and give commands if and when need be. 
The training is intense. It's like a huge game of war - the "Super Bowl" of Army training and the "best training the Army and the world has to offer," Fritz explained. 
"Basically, a brigade will go out and all of the elements and units inside of the brigade will go out and have these 'war games,'" explained Fritz. "It's like a dress rehearsal prior to deployment. They send out all of their tanks, Bradleys, helicopters - everything. It's shipped out there from Fort Riley by train about two weeks ahead, then they bring the soldiers out and do a rotation out there against an opposing force. They go out and they equip everything - men, women, weapons, tanks - with mild gear, and the best way I can explain it is that it becomes this enormous game of laser tag. They're doing this battle and everything is kind of replicated this way."
Fritz rode from unit to unit in a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter and sat in on the commanders' TOC (Tactical Operations Command) meetings. She was able to learn what their plans were for their mission and see what they were trying to accomplish through it.
She traveled to Ft. Irwin with a group of 12 key leaders from the Manhattan, Lawrence and Junction City communities, and among those in the group were K-State Dean of Arts and Sciences Peter Dorhout and Dean of Education Debbie Mercer. The purpose of the visit was to expose these community leaders to the challenging training environment its Ft. Riley soldier neighbors endure. 
Overall, there are two key elements that stand out to most to Fritz after the experience: leadership and military appreciation. 
"Leadership development is, without question, a priority in the military. Their leaders are not only built for the military, but for life," explained Fritz. "As I listened to the colonels, the brigade leaders and the soldiers talk, they said 40 percent of that brigade were young people between 18 and 22 years old. 
"These are young people who are very similar in age range and capacity to the student-athletes we work with on a daily basis, and the missions that they are responsible for, it is very impressive. What these young people are capable of doing under strong leadership is a model I think we certainly can follow as coaches at our level."
Continued Fritz, "Also, the pure appreciation of our military, that's the biggest thing I came away with. Of their service and their commitment to service, was an example, to me, of people who are incredibly committed to protecting the rest of us. Those are the two things I pull away from it the most, the leadership and the level at which they do it are exampled that we can all follow." 
The experience broadened Fritz' view of the military and, though their bond was strong before she went on the trip to NTC, it brought an entirely new meaning to her team's partnership with the 1st Combat Aviation Brigade.
"There's no doubt that I will certainly take more pride in that partnership now," said Fritz. "I felt like I did before, but now, after all of this, I feel like I have a greater appreciation of what these men and women are doing."
K-State volleyball is currently in the midst of its spring schedule and will compete in a handful of scrimmages throughout April. Next up for the Wildcats is a trip to Kansas City to compete in the K-State Spring Invitational held at UMKC on Saturday, April 11, beginning at 10 a.m. Admission is free for all fans, and a detailed schedule for the tournament can be found at
Stay tuned for more on the Wildcat volleyball squad in a K-State Sports Extra coming later this week.   

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