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New cadets swell UNG corps to record 800-plus

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Cadet COL Blake Schaper, center, leads the fall 2013 FROG class as they near completion of the traditional Crown Mountain run. Carrying the brigade flag next to Schaper is Matthew Reynolds, chosen for the honor as the most motivated member of the FROG class.

For the 260 recruits gathered in the Student Recreation Center on the University of North Georgia's Dahlonega Campus, the mission was clear: no one left behind.

"This run is not to see who can run the fastest; this run is to see who can start as a unit and finish as a unit," Cadet LTC Theresa Bucco, deputy commander of the Boar's Head Brigade, told recruits and hundreds of family members and friends gathered prior to the traditional Crown Mountain run on Aug. 18. "We are a team. There will be no cadet left behind this morning."

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New cadets recite the brigade creed after completing FROG Week.

Freshman Recruit Orientation Group (FROG) Week is held the week before classes start each semester to help recruits, commonly called FROGs, transition into UNG's Corps of Cadets. For many, it's the first exposure to military life and its regulations and codes. The 3.1-mile trek to the highest point in Dahlonega is the final test; after completing the run, recruits recite the brigade creed and are FROGs no more.

"The individuals before us now conquered their fears and fought through to victory. I could not be more pleased. Well done, FROGs," Cadet COL Blake Schaper, commander of the Corps of Cadets and a role model to the 800-plus cadets he leads, said during FROG Week graduation. "Don't lose sight of why you're here; your goal, first and foremost, is to get an education and attain a degree."

Schaper, a biology/pre-med major from Alpharetta, Ga., has been involved in corps specialty units and student government, is a member of a national biology honor society and carries a 3.5 GPA. He will commission into the Georgia National Guard, a requirement of his Georgia Military Scholarship, and plans to attend medical school. Schaper admits that he wasn't a "squared away" recruit when he began three years ago with no military background.

"Actually, I was quite the 'un-squared away' FROG: wearing parts of the uniform on the wrong side and wearing my hat indoors," he said. "The corps has developed me into a more confident leader. The military staff are great mentors and by being a sponge, absorbing all of that information, you can become a great leader in UNG's 'leadership lab.'"

Schaper was pleased with the organizational pride he witnessed during FROG Week.

"We're going to build on that motivation and foster that throughout the year," Schaper said. "We want to give everyone a sense of pride in their unit, so they want to succeed for their units and themselves."

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Cadet CPT Ryan Ault watches as his Bravo Company recruits try to
figure out an obstacle during FROG Week.

That message has gotten through to corps officers like Cadet CPT Ryan Ault of Colorado Springs, Colo.

"As Bravo Company commander, my goal is to get this group to become a family. They may not know anybody, but these cadets are their new best friends," he said. "Our job is to tell them how to be successful in upholding corps standards."

On the last day of FROG Week, the most motivated recruits are chosen to carry the company guidons – flags signifying unit designation. Matthew Reynolds, a freshman from Charlotte, N.C., who injured his ankle early in the week, was chosen to carry the brigade flag and lead the Crown Mountain run.

"I wasn't going to let my injury keep me from finishing FROG Week, and I guess they saw something in me, saw my motivation," Reynolds said. "I was shocked, but I also was humbled by it. It's an honor."

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Alumnus Tony Faiia, wearing blue, joins in to do push-
ups to motivate a struggling FROG.

Jessica Barrett of Dahlonega was chosen as the guidon-bearer for Alpha Company. A junior at UNG, she joined the corps after seeing the respect earned by cadets around campus and hopes to become a medevac pilot.

"It's extremely mentally difficult, but it's worth it," she said.

Tony Faiia, chairman of the Corps Advisory Council and a 1968 graduate, was among many alumni assisting during FROG Week and was impressed with the quality of UNG's cadets.

"I think that FROG Week now is more extensive, better organized and offers better training than it did when I went through it in 1964," he said after doing push-ups to motivate a struggling recruit. "The FROGs are motivated, the cadre's motivated, and they have good coordination and good training all around."

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