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- Major Greg Mikesell &
Black Watch Drill Team
Winston Churchill High School

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the Belles of the Blue Knights Drill Team

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Major Greg Mikesell & the Black Watch Drill Team
from Winston Churchill High School

Major Greg Mikesell To witness Black Watch under the leadership of Major Greg Mikesell was to watch a thoroughbred running strong across the blue grasses of Kentucky. Without question, the largest testament to the greatness that was Black Watch was not the numerous National Championships earned in the amazingly competitive Armed Division of the Nationals. It was the respect they were given and the style with which they operated, BOTH ON AND OFF THE DRILL FLOOR!

Major Greg MIkesell developed a culture that helped to make not only Winston Churchill H.S. world famous for their exhibition drill, but the way they seemed to spread their excellence throughout a drill meet, and for the type of high caliber men and women who would leave his program. Churchill has a confidence that started long before the team took the competition floor. Mikesell left no detail to chance. When the doors would open at the Nationals, Mikesell ensured he had parents to immediately enter the facility and commandeer a certain seating section for his team. When the team entered the building, they had a live bagpipe playing to christen their entry. Small details that he instituted added greatly to the grandeur that became the Churchill mystique.

Using drill as a tool, San Antonio quickly became known as "the drill Mecca" with Churchill and Roosevelt so dominating the JROTC drill universe. Watching these two schools compete was akin to watching Affirmed and Alydar, knowing you were better just for the EXPERIENCE of watching them compete and remembering decades later the power of those routines that so transcended the drill universe. Watching a Black Watch performance often left the viewer in awe. Seeing a huge venue with 3,000 people come to riveted attention and focused quiet without a word being spoken. Watching the judges seem to lose their eye to judge and become a sheer fan of the amazing difficulty and power they were witnessing. Spectators seemingly never breathing for seven minutes as the platoon stormed their way through a thunderous routine that always ended with uncontrolled applause from parents and rivals alike.

Major Mikesell was a wonderful sounding board and was the initiator of the Unarmed Dual Exhibition competition at the NHSDTC event. After a year of asking Competition Director Justin Gates to please consider adding the event to no avail, Major Mikesell simply came to Mr. Gates at the event and said, "I just need 3 minutes of your time - I want you to see this". And literally, as the Queen's Guard Unarmed dual completed their performance, the face of drill changed at the Nationals as Mr. Gates stated, "That is the last year a routine that GOOD will not have judges scoring them". And the event was added the following year!

Black Watch

Like all strong leaders, Major Mikesell demanded the best everyone had to offer, including his cadets. His style left no room for average in any way. When Churchill attended the Nationals in Daytona Beach, no detail was too small. Major Mikesell had people assigned to lock into every detail. From being their at doors open to rope off the exact section and number of seats he would need, to putting up the team banner in the hall, to even piping in (with real bagpipes) the entry of the team to the amazing onlooking from teams you knew were thinking, "Damn, that is awesome". They had a swagger and they backed it up by being easily the most copied team in the history of armed exhibition drill. The names "Black Watch" and "Major Mikesell" will forever be burned into the illustrious history of competition drill. It is an honor to recognize them here in the National Drill Hall of Fame.

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