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Cadet leaders show the way for newcomers during FROG Week

FROG Week 2018
Cadet Lt. Col. Jacob Starrett speaks with FROGs during Freshman Recruit Orientation Group (FROG) Week at UNG. Starrett, the officer in charge for FROG Week, spoke to them about the value of teamwork after they completed a leadership reaction activity at Pine Valley.

Training freshmen on how to become cadets is nothing new for Cadet Lt. Col. Jacob Starrett. This year he took the lead in that effort as the officer in charge of Freshman Recruit Orientation Group (FROG) Week.

FROG Week, which ran Aug. 12-18, marked the transition of 234 incoming freshmen in the Corps of Cadets from civilians to cadets at UNG, one of six senior military colleges in the nation. Like all other Corps events, cadets planned and led FROG Week with supervision from the Commandant's staff.

Starrett, a senior nursing major from Hartwell, said the returning cadets were challenged to figure out how to run such a large-scale training.

"In this school we learn by experience," he said. "And I think that's what makes it so great."

FROG Week is a tradition dating back to at least the 1960s at UNG. Retired Maj. Richard Neikirk, assistant commandant of cadets at UNG, said about a third of those participating are completely new to the military experience, while the rest have Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) experience.

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Neikirk said the training helps incoming cadets learn about time management, academic expectations, room standards, discipline, rappelling, road marching, and simply the right and wrong way to do things. He said "we treat them all the same" and see how each cadet develops from there.

Cadets were seen walking around reading their knowledge sheet to answer questions from cadet leadership, and that's only part of the information they absorbed on a daily basis.

"You're learning something at all times," Starrett said.

Other portions of the week included haircuts at Woody's and North Georgia Hair Cutters and receiving equipment on Monday. Then came weapons familiarity and the combat water survival test (CWST) on Tuesday.

The CWST included swimming with a load bearing vest and rifle, jumping in the water blindfolded while holding their rifle, 10 minutes of continuous swimming and five minutes of treading water in the pool at Memorial Hall Gym.

Yolimar Rivera, a FROG from Canton, Georgia, said it was great to see the cadets lead the newcomers.

"Even though they're hard on us, we get to know them," Rivera said. "And I feel like making those bonds early on is really special. I'll be halfway through my semester and need to know something, and I'll have someone to go to."

Ayomide Adekola, a FROG who was born in Nigeria and is from Loganville, Georgia, wants to one day be an Army Ranger. The oldest of five children, he didn't shy away from the high standards the cadets set for FROGs.

"Whatever they say or their expectations, my goal is to meet them and exceed them as much as possible because that's how I was raised," Adekola said.

Starrett said the leadership reaction obstacle courses Thursday at Pine Valley were a turning point.

"We let the FROGs kind of figure it out themselves. And that's where we really get to see the leaders among the group come out," Starrett said. "And that's a really cool experience because it's the first time they're on their own, still learning each other's names. And you get to see the true, natural leaders come out and work as a team to complete an objective."

FROG Week is demanding, and every year it causes some incoming freshmen to question if they want to stay in the Corps. Starrett encourages them to stick it out, learn how to work with others and work toward a leadership position where they can learn about themselves and how to lead.

"If you stick with it and you like the military experience, you can have a blast," Starrett said.

Adekola, for one, looked at the cadets leading FROG Week as role models.

"It just shows what I have to look forward to in the coming years," he said. "I look at that and say if they can do it, so can I."

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