A few weeks ago, the Dickson County High School football program had a visitor. A few visitors, to be correct. The Air Force’s 330th Recruiting Squadron made a special trip to DCHS and had a “mini” bootcamp with the players from the football team and a few other young students that wanted to be a part of this bootcamp.

Lieutenant Colonel Steve Cooper led the charge along with his teammates, Master Sergeant Mayerstein and Technical Sergeant Thomas. The three service members talked to the students about everything from leadership to what the armed forces could do for their future while also going through some exercises like running and “up-downs.”

The men talked to the athletes and explained that joining the Air Force could be a viable option. With the Air Force offering bonuses anywhere from $3,000 up to $50,000, the kids were presented with plenty of options for what they could do after high school.

An Air Force member can get a college degree from the Air Force Academy itself while serving their country at the same time.

“We’re here to spread the word,” Cooper said. “A big piece of this is educating the young folks about the Air Force in general and then about all the opportunities. We educate them on all the day-to-day basics and how their education is corollary to the amount of income they can earn. All of my senior NCOs (non-commissioned officers) have masters degrees; they were able to earn their associates, bachelors and masters degrees for zero dollars.”

The Air Force offers bonuses for plenty of different fields and Cooper explained to the students what all different types of careers the students can take in the military.

“Some of our two most profitable things we can do is school visits and putting on demonstrations,” Cooper said. “We partnered with enlisted recruiting squadron here locally and they gave us some of their priority schools. Out here today with have some athletes and some students that showed a general interest so what we’re doing is a little bit of academics to just show them what the Air Force offers and then leading them through a simple physical training session explaining why we do what we do.”

Dickson County’s new coach, Jeff Tomlinson, looked on from the sidelines of the practice field along with some of his assistant coaches and athletics director Jay Powlas while the students learned about the Air Force and learned a lot about themselves.

Some of the exercises forced leadership. Holding a certain pose or running to the field-goal post and back in a certain amount of time forced the leadership because not all of the kids could pass. If one person fails, they all fail. Some of the students didn’t feel like running more or holding a physically strenuous pose, so they spoke up and got everybody on the right track. Whether those student-athletes knew it or not, they were building leadership.

“Coach Powlas was able to get this together and he deserves the credit for that,” Tomlinson said. “These exercises help build mental toughness and physicality. Bringing upstanding men in here to work with these young athletes helps them learn that they’re capable of doing things they didn’t know they could do. They’re being asked to push themselves to a limit that they may have not been pushed to before and I want to see them realize that they can do it.”