On September 26, 2020, new Missouri Military Academy recruits were officially welcomed into the corps of cadets following the completion of the Crucible. The Crucible is a rite of passage at the Academy, a series of physical and mental obstacles intended to challenge cadets as leaders and as a team.
“Cadets spend their first eight weeks at the Academy preparing for this capstone experience," Commandant of Cadets Col. Grabowski said. "Our goal is for them all to successfully complete it and be able to look back and know that they had the grit, determination and self-discipline to work hard and rise above every obstacle they find in their way. They did just that, and I’m very proud of the cadets’ performance last Saturday.”
The Crucible – one of the most difficult challenges cadets face during their time at MMA – demands that cadets push themselves harder than their perceived limits. By forcing them to push on, through sheer determination and strength of will, cadets realize a new level of their own potential. They come to understand a stronger sense of self-confidence; they appreciate their newfound grit and realize that they can overcome any obstacle they face in life.
“The Crucible is not just a physical challenge – it challenges you mentally, too,” said Cadet Roy Kioko, 10th grade from St. Louis, Missouri, who completed the Crucible on Sept. 26.
“Either you break the Crucible, or the Crucible will break you,” added Cadet Nathaniel Espinoza, 9th grade from Miami, Florida.
Perhaps even more valuable than their personal growth, the Crucible also serves to unite new cadets and build the foundation of their brotherhood. By experiences these challenges together, supporting and encouraging each other, finishing and celebrating their victory together, cadets experience the truest, purest sense of what it means to be a team.
“You have to have done it to understand what it is like,” said Cadet Anthony Melick, 10th grade from Overland, Kansas.
This year, cadets started the Crucible at 5:00 AM with a physical training (PT) test, which included push-ups, sit-ups and a 1-mile run.
After PT, cadets took a six-mile hike across MMA's back campus. At the three-mile mark of the hike, they were instructed to carry one cadet on a stretcher for the remaining three miles. The act is one of heavy symbolism, signifying that they will never leave a MMA brother behind.
Following their hike, cadets completed a three-mile obstacle trail run, which included 16 obstacle course challenges. Cadets then moved to the Flanagan Field, where they participated in a paintball battle. This exercise demonstrated their knowledge of small unit tactics and their ability to work as a team.
They then completed MMA’s Cortada Confidence Course, a Marine Corps-style obstacle course, and a river crossing exercise, conducted in MMA's Olympic-sized swimming pool. After piling all their gear in a boat, cadets swam the length of the pool twice with the boat.
At the successful conclusion of the Crucible, cadets celebrated with their MMA brothers at a Warrior Cookout in the Alain M. Garcia Field House on campus.
On October 17, 2020, new cadets will be formally celebrated and acknowledged at the Passing Through Ceremony, a time-honored MMA tradition. At the Passing Through Ceremony new cadets will be presented their well-earned hat brasses and black shoulder boards, which signify their official rank as full members of the MMA Corps of Cadets.
“The Crucible is all about goal setting, teamwork, perseverance and building confidence — and I was extremely proud to watch our new cadets help and encourage each other, and most importantly never give up,” said MMA President Brigadier General Richard V. Geraci, USA (Ret). “The Crucible is one of many events providing the foundation for building character, overcoming obstacles and each cadet really learning about himself. I know many of the boys have never been challenged to the degree we challenged them, and they and their families should be very proud of what they accomplished.”
Cadet quotes were collected by Cadet Preston Mynsted, 12th grade from Henderstonville, Tennessee, a member of the MMA yearbook staff. Photos were taken by MMA Marketing Coordinator Jessica Ekern. More photos are posted here.