CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — There are 90 NJROTC programs across Texas, and only 16 of them can qualify for state, so for Rockport-Fulton to advance, it was quite the challenge.
Especially since the school wasn't sure if they would even have a program at the start of the year.
“They were looking at closing the NJROTC program, possibly because they were looking for instructors to fill these positions,” Jose Sanchez, instructor said.
The instructor positions eventually got filled, but they were one month behind, which meant one thing.
“Well, practice, practice, practice,” Jared Stephens, cadet said.
There are several categories the cadets compete in such as basic marching, some including rifles, and others requiring a lengthy step routine.
“It has to be longer than 6 minutes and no longer than 9 minutes,” Autumn Lee, cadet said.
And all the students are required to no military knowledge they could be quizzed on.
There are 90 cadets in the unit at Rockport-Fulton, but only 35 could go to the contest.
To ensure their success, all 90 cadets showed up to every practice.
“They want to be a part of this unit and a part of the team, and they know that if they're missing the whole team is going to hurt,” Jeffery Dykes, a cadet said.
That unity and discipline is what led them to become state qualifiers.
After starting the year late and having lingering effects from Hurricane Harvey not many people though it was possible.
“What I hear from most of the other instructors is, ‘We knew Rockport was going to come back, but not this year,’” Sanchez said.
But, they did.
If the students do well at state they have the opportunity to compete at nationals in Pensacola.