K-State Track, 299th Brigade Support Battalion Team Up

Blaine Cash and Lt. Col.Dale Farrand

Jan. 20, 2012

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MANHATTAN, Kan. – The Kansas State track and field and cross country teams recognized their partnership with the 299th Brigade Support Battalion during a covenant signing ceremony on Friday afternoon at Ahearn Field House. Members from both the team and 299th stationed out of Fort Riley were at the ceremony to honor the partnership similar to those between other units and teams at K-State.

The K-State Athletics Department has a long relationship with Fort Riley which has grown to include partnerships with various military units on base and athletics teams. For this and all the work Kansas State University does on campus outside of athletics, the university has been recognized as the most military friendly university in the United States by G.I. Jobs magazine.

During the covenant ceremony Lt Col. Dale Farrand, Director of Track & Field and Cross Country Cliff Rovelto, Head Cross Country Coach Michael Smith and Command Sgt. Maj. Franklin Jordan signed the decree officially recognizing the partnership.

“This partnership is something we don’t take lightly,” Rovelto said. “We value you and the services you provide to our country and we want to give back, and we look forward to the future of this partnership.”

Lt. Col. Farrand said the partnership took time to develop due to the unit’s deployment and he added he has seen the relationship between Fort Riley and the surrounding community grow an incredible amount since his first stint at Fort Riley more than 15 years ago when he first joined the Army.

“I want to thank Capt. Jacqueline Ralston for making this partnership happen. This is my second time being stationed at Fort Riley in Kansas,” Farrand said. “I came here in 1994 and when I came back what I have seen in that transition in 15 years is the communities of Manhattan, Junction City, Fort Riley and Kansas State University have formed this kind of partnership that did not exist back in ’94 when I was here. I told Cpt. Ralston I really want to capitalize on this and find some aspect of Kansas State that we could get our organization tied into.

“What you do and what we do has something in common and that’s physical fitness. I think physical fitness is a big part of what we do. Your body is your weapon and we’re the same way.”

As part of its partnership with the track and field team, the 299th wished to award one member of the team each year with the Heartbeat of the Team Award. The soldiers of the 299th Brigade Support Battalion believe people should strive to be the best they can be in all areas of their lives. The annual Heartbeat of the Team Award is the 299th BSB’s way of recognizing and rewarding a Kansas State University track and field team member who is doing just that – excelling in the classroom and on the athletic field as well as demonstrating a high moral character in keeping with the ideals of the U.S. Army.

The seven Army values are: Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity and Personal Courage. These values characterize the Army culture and describe the ethical standards expected of all Soldiers.

The K-State coaching staff selected Blaine Cash as the recipient of the inaugural Heartbeat of the Team Award for most exemplifying these seven core values of the Army.

“When we were asked to pick someone to win this award and we looked at the criteria, one person in particular stood out,” Rovelto said. “When you look at character, when you look at moral standards, when you look at dedication and work ethic there are a number of people on the team that we feel meet the criteria, but Blaine here stood out. He started as a walk-on, and he has been a wonderful member of our team.”

Cash said he was humbled by the award considering the criteria and other members of the team he believed were worthy of such an honor.

“It’s mind blowing to think that someone like coach thought enough of me with the group of guys and girls that we have and he thinks I’m a reflection of what the Army expects,” Cash said. “It kind of leaves me speechless to think I stood out and it was, like he said, a no brainer for him.”