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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Young athletes learn -- and set examples for all of us

Footballers on the firing line
They exhibited mature, respectful, and supportive behavior while they felt excited and even when they didn't like the ideas being presented? Wouldn't it be nice to say that about a City Council meeting?

But this was a group of Estancia football players, their coaches, and some family and friends who provided rides. The group visited Artemis Defense Institute in Lake Forest to train on the simulators used by military and law enforcement groups. The training is available to civilians at this particular facility.

Not being drafted for SWAT

They weren't training to be adjuncts to the Costa Mesa Police Swat Team, although about a third indicated that they were interested in a law enforcement career, and over half indicated they were considering military service after finishing school.

They learned about firearms safety and developed marksmanship skill, but that wasn't the main point, either. The primary reason for the training was fun. And they had lots.

Self knowledge too

Another reason for training at the facility was to practice facing stress. The young men faced simulations of crisis situations to which they had to respond.

We have four basic responses to a crisis; fight, flee, posture (or bluff), and freeze. The training at Artemis helped them avoid the last response; they learned to remain aware of the situation and respond. Each trainee got a full evaluation and was helped to explore their perceptions under the stress and better ways to deal with the crisis – for each scenario.

Leaders set the example

Adults who transported the students observed or participated as they wished. One noteworthy observation: a parent whose son wasn't present today had transported students anyway. She said, “I won’t allow a gun in my house,” early in the training, yet she had transported students and was supporting the training. She modeled leadership principles of loyalty and keeping her commitments.

Two coaches faced an unfamiliar scenario while wearing a “shocker” that stings a trainee to simulate being injured; that is, being shot, when he fails to notice a sudden attack. They got shocked, to the delight of the students, one of whom commented, “Well, we’re probably going to run ten stair laps for this but it’s worth it” as he hooted at his coach’s “80,000 volt dance.”

Two senior coaches wore the shockers as they faced a more intricate scenario; they were playing the role of responding officers in a school shooting. The pre-event briefing by the Coach was instructive; “I’ll take right, you take left and shut up.” They exhibited sufficient teamwork and situational awareness to avoid shocks; no threat was missed in the stress of the situation. That was better than many police officers according to Artemis' Chief Instructor for the day.

Lessons Learned

The young men learned a little about firearms safety and marksmanship. They learned more about themselves and their feelings and reactions in highly stressful situations. And they were exposed to excellent adult leadership by the coaches, parents, friends and staff at Artemis.

That is, they got a lot more than a couple of pieces of pizza from their field trip to Artemis Defense Institute Monday.

It would be great if we could get CM4OE to sign up for football practice!

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