USAFA, Colo. – Last fall, the Air Force lacrosse team got together to tackle a lofty goal–climbing to the top of Mount Elbert, the highest peak in Colorado. This year, the squad underwent a similar challenge for its team-building exercise, this time tackling Mount Massive, the second-highest peak in Colorado at 14,421 feet.
During the trip, not only was the team able to take advantage of one of the many unique opportunities available in Colorado, but it helped the team bond by accomplishing a grueling task together.
“I believe there is a lot of value in pushing the limits physically and mentally and achieving a goal like getting to the top of a 14,000-foot peak,” said head coach Eric Seremet. “Although the metaphor is obvious, I feel this trip brought us closer together in the common challenge of getting ourselves and our teammates up the mountain.”
Certainly getting up a 14,000-foot mountain was no easy feat, particularly with little-to-no preparation. The trip was planned in just five days and the conditions, especially at the top, were treacherous.
“The trail seemed to never stop, but we just followed the guy in front of us and kept trucking,” said senior John Krzyminski. “Things actually got pretty dangerous at the top, with about a foot of snow and wind blowing in all directions. And the funny part is, a lot of our team was wearing running shoes and shorts. It would be a lie if I told you we didn’t think about turning back, but we didn’t–we made it to the top. Together. And that’s what it’s all about.”
“This season we have a tough schedule,” continued Krzyminski. “It’s like another big mountain we have to climb. Some days we might not feel ready, but we have our brothers on the team right next to us, and we are going to rise to the top. Together.”
Other teammates commented on the benefits of completing such an arduous task, helping the squad become a more cohesive group by building and strengthening relationships between the team members.
“Mount Massive was a great and challenging experience for everyone on our team,” stated senior Dayton Gilbreath. “It gave us time away from the Academy to relax and get to know each other. Our team is very unique with all the challenges we face day-to-day and the challenges that our coaching staff puts us through. These challenges make us stronger and more prepared to take on the toughest of times. Having our whole team, coaches and officers included, reach 14,428 feet in a blizzard is really something to be said.”
“Though the initial attitude towards the trip was a bit cynical, I feel like everyone was able to take something away from the experience,” said sophomore Kyle Cassady.” Climbing the mountain was really tough, a lot harder than last year climbing Mount Elbert. It was snowing and very cold, but hiking with my teammates made it a lot easier, because we all had the same goal–make it to the top.”
“I have gotten to do a lot of cool things in Colorado, including sky diving, snowboarding, rock climbing and rafting, but Mount Massive ranks among the top experiences I have had going to school here at the Air Force Academy,” said Krzyminski. “What better way to spend the weekend than with my best friends on top of a sweet mountain.”