Notre Dame’s Army ROTC program prepares cadets for American military life, but this weekend members of the Fightin’ Irish Battalion will compete for German recognition. Four cadets will compete for the German Armed Forces Badge for Military Proficiency, awarded by the German Army, known as the Bundeswehr. Senior Josh Sandler, will compete for the award along with Holy Cross sophomore triplets Randy Jozwiak, Matt Jozwiak and Allen Jozwiak. The group will participate this weekend in Indianapolis, with Sandler serving as the team leader. Each will vie for his own badge individually. Sandler said though the German army gives the award, it is for American participants. “The German Armed Forces Badge is an award for military proficiency from the German army, authorized to be awarded to and worn by Americans,” he said. The competition takes place over two and a half days and is comprised of eight separate individual events — a 200-meter swim, a 100-meter sprint, a five-kilometer run, a long jump, a shot put competition, a first aid test, a 9 mm pistol shoot and a march carrying a 33-pound pack called a “ruck march.” Competitors have to meet or exceed a standard of performance in each event. These standards vary for different age brackets and are based on gender. Further, some events are referred to as “go, no go” contests, and others determine whether a competitor receives a gold, silver or bronze badge, Matt Jozwiak said. “Go, no go” means a competitor will no longer continue in the competition if they fail to meet an event’s standards. Jozwiak said an example of a “go, no go” event is the long jump, where competitors are disqualified if they do not jump at least 4.5 meters. Other events in this category are the 200-meter swim, the 100-meter sprint, the five-kilometer run and the shot put. Jozwiak said the first-aid test is similar to the “go, no go” physical event, as competitors must pass in order to receive a badge. The shooting competition and the “ruck march” determine the type of badge a competitor is eligible to receive, Jozwiak said. “There is a shooting competition with a 9 mm pistol. You have five chances to hit a target 25 meters away,” he said. “Three out of five is the minimum to still be eligible for a badge. If you hit the target five times you are eligible for gold, four times you are eligible for silver, and three times you are eligible for bronze.” The “ruck march” is the final competition and determines what type of badge an individual earns, Jozwiak said. Different distances and time standards for the march are required for different types of badges. Sandler said he wanted to compete for the German Armed Forces badge for the prestige. “In the Army, you wear your resume on your chest,” he said. “This is a shiny new bullet point.” Jozwiak said he is competing for the badge because he has never participated in a similar experience. “I really just wanted to do it because I’ve never done anything like the track-and-field events before,” he said. “The experience itself is what I’m looking forward to. I also want to better myself physically.” Sandler said all of the Notre Dame ROTC cadets have a chance at a badge this weekend. “It’s not a participation ribbon, but if we continue to put the work in every one of us is capable of coming home with some hardware,” he said. Jozwiak said he is confident at least one of the four teammates will come home victorious. “Personally, I don’t know how I will do,” he said. “I think as a team we’ll come back with some badges, at least one gold.”
“It just shows his roots and how much he’s connected and still interested in helping the youngsters that are trying to follow in the same path he did,” Salmon River football coach Ty Medley said. “The positive momentum it has already created in two weeks has been great. All of a sudden the guys are far more interested in working out because it’s high quality, brand new stuff.”Vander Esch, who turned 23 earlier this month, walked on at Boise State University and was selected by Dallas with the No. 19 overall pick in the 2018 draft.He set a Cowboys rookie record and finished third in the NFL with 140 tackles last season while also earning a Pro Bowl selection. Leighton Vander Esch is using his newfound celebrity status to give back.The Cowboys linebacker picked up $45,000 of the $70,000 bill that provided a new weight room at his old high school in Riggins, Idaho. The gym at Salmon River High School opened for use earlier this month after being upgraded with all new equipment.“It was the first thing that popped into my mind because it was a big need,” Vander Esch told the Idaho Press . “It just made the most sense. A lot of the racks and stuff were all made in shop class and everybody has been saying we need a new weight room. It was barely even a weight room before, and now to see the excitement level of the guys using the new room has just been awesome.”Vander Esch also provided new uniforms for the football and basketball teams through his Nike apparel deal.