The 2021 Spirit Banner presentation shown above was made by Sports Network International Client Relations Supervisor Ms. Jennifer Ladd (left) during the Nationals Masters Level Awards Ceremony. Is a powerful moment every year. This year, receiving the prestigious award is 1SG Wayne Cogdill, from the Army JROTC powerhouse unit from Leavenworth H.S. in Leavenworth, Kansas. The staff of SNI specifically requested 1SG Cogdill come to take it because his signature phrase of "FIRED UP" was a staple around the office during the times when things looked bleak due to the virus!
The choice for the Spirit Award recipient is often bandied about by SNI senior staff for a week before a single school is settled upon by all. This year everyone around the table had the same name at the same time for the first time in recent history. The parents, the cadets and the instructors put forth a show of determination and force of will that no virus, no roadblock, and no difficulty of task could sidetrack. From late last SUMMER, this program has maintained a laser-focused goal - to win the Nationals. Many schools had this goal. But the totality of purpose, the work put forth by the cadets and cadre, the good fortune of a forward thinking, science-based school board - all the stars seemed to align. Attending the event from a modest-sized town from over 1,500 miles away, during a pandemic, it was a war of attrition. This school was simply too driven and too stubborn to let anything get in their path.
The program didn't win this award through their top finish. In fact, they were selected weeks before the event was even held. Their purpose warmed then melted our collective hearts with their early phone call. "Sir, we need the target. We know things can change but we need to have something to shoot for. Tell me we are solid right now. My kids need to know you are working to make this happen so we can make it work on our end", stated 1SG Cogdale early on. They needed to know another group like SNI was going to work as hard as they were to make the event happen if at all possible. And when the vaccine broke and the transmission rates began to plummet in March, we knew the stars were aligning for these amazing kids.
The program glorifies the Nationals in actions and deeds, serving as amazing ambassadors for the finest drill competition in the world and everywhere else they compete. Leavenworth High School has the distinction of being the oldest junior ROTC program in the Nation. The program dates back to 1897 when an officer from Fort Leavenworth presented military training at the high school five days a week for one hour each day. Broomsticks were used as drill rifles and students were taught close order drill in the hallways. Those days are gone but the grit and fire remain. Fortunately for the program, they are flanked by other AWESOME JROTC programs in Missouri which makes their rivalries fierce. They have competitive fire but they always maintain the proper decorum and understand they are representing more than themselves in their desire to win. This program has earned their one-year reign and permanent battle streamer in front of 2,800 spectators at the National High School Drill Team Championships Awards Ceremony in sunny Daytona Beach, Florida.
The streamers you see at the top of the staff list the names of the previous winners of this award. Click above on the link to see who has previously won this award. We at Sports Network International are honored to present this banner to a single school each year that exemplifies the greatest ideals of JROTC on and off the competition floor in victory and defeat. To learn more about the Spirit Banner, please click on the links above.