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Gamecocks Reflect on Fort Jackson Experience, Show Airs this Weekend

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As we get closer to the debut of "Gamecock Confidential: Men's Basketball Back to Basics" this weekend (airing on WOLO ABC Columbia on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. and Sunday at 12:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.) we caught up with a few members of the team to hear more about the day and what the experience was like.

The 30-minute show will feature video and commentary from a day the team spent at Fort Jackson in late October before the start of the season, including a dose of boot camp from drill sergeants, team building challenges, eating MRE lunches in the field with soldier trainees on base, and concluding the day with an after-school fan experience at Pinckney Elementary School and visiting with Wounded Warriors.

The team shared with us about their day, saying it was something totally new to them and an overall good experience, but at first they didn't realize what they were getting themselves into.

"We thought we were just going in to just talk to military people but all of a sudden everything changed," said junior transfer Brenton Williams. "[When the drill sergeant came in] we were pretty clueless, looking at each other like, 'what are we about to do?'"

The team quickly adapted to the drill sergeant's orders, lining up in order and then making their way outside.

"I just expected to walk around and tour the facility," said freshman Anthony Gill. "As soon as the drill sergeant came in the room and started yelling for us to get in a line, it got pretty intense."

The team donned gear and hit the ground for some push-ups.

"I had a hard time putting the helmet on having never done that before. I put it on backwards every time they told me to put it on. I was pretty bad at it," said Williams. "Putting on all the gear was tough because it's so heavy, then doing pushups on the ground with the gear on was the hardest. I can't imagine doing that every day."

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Several players said figuring out the MRE's (stands for Meal, Ready-to-Eat) was one of the toughest parts of the afternoon. MRE's are small, pre-packaged meals used in combat or other field conditions where organized meals or facilities aren't available and include flameless heaters, a packet that when mixed with water creates a reaction to give off heat to warm the MRE entree.

"Making the food and then tying to eat it in time was the hardest part," said sophomore RJ Slawson (pictured below). "Mine wasn't that bad, I had ravioli. You just have to add the water right to heat it up."

While the MRE's definitely weren't the same as a home-cooked meal, the team said some of them were pretty good and the heating element was pretty cool.

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The team performed several challenges that required them to work together to accomplish the task, including getting a 50-lb. gas barrel from one side of a pit to another without letting it hit the ground using three wooden planks.

"You really had to think about it when we had to get the giant barrel from one side to another," said sophomore Damontre Harris. "It took a lot of teamwork."

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Another task viewers will see in the show involved using ropes to transport a wounded soldier on a canvas stretcher from one deck to another without him falling.

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"The day brought us a lot closer and communication-wise, it helped us get to know more how each other think," said Gill.

After going through all the different training exercises and team challenges the group wound down the day by visiting with wounded warrior soldiers and a fun after-school experience with students at Pinckney Elementary School at the fort.

"[Visiting the wounded soldiers] gave me a different perspective on life and reminded me how lucky we are," said Slawson. "After all they've been through you know life is short and anything can happen."

"That was a really new experience for me and to hear them talk about what they went through and how they survived it was really touching," said Williams. "We're definitely that much more thankful for where we are."

The team hopes viewers will share their new-found appreciation for the life of an Army trainee when they see the show.

"I think people will be surprised to see on the show what these trainees go through on a daily basis and the hard work they put in," said Williams. 

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Tune in this weekend to WOLO ABC Columbia to watch Gamecock Confidential: Men's Basketball Back to Basics. The show will air three times: Saturday, Dec. 10, at 3:30 p.m. or Sunday, Dec. 11, at 12:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Men's Basketball Four Game Mini Plans are on sale now.

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