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Preds score big on Soldiering experience

by Staff Writer / Nashville Predators
By Kimberly T. Laudano
160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment Public Affairs

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. -   For the unsuspecting players on the Nashville Predators hockey team, yesterday was anything but a typical day in the office.

"Today, you are going to be embarked on a team building exercise with us," Sgt. 1st Class Lance Hofmann of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) told the players on their team bus.  "You are no longer players in our mind, you are trainees."
Players had to carry telephone polls as part of the team-building experience.

The entire Predators team was surprised with an intense all day, hands-on Soldiering orientation experience with the Night Stalkers at Fort Campbell.

"You are going to get wet. You are going to get dirty. It is going to be hard. It will be a challenge," he said.

Every event planned was designed around the team work required to complete them and to make the biggest impact during their short visit, explained Sgt. 1st Class Josh Boisselle, the non-commissioned officer in charge of the 160th's initial training combat skills section.
Team players experienced everything from physical training challenges, like negotiating an obstacle course and a log carry, to shooting practice. They especially got a lesson in Army values and the importance of teamwork. 

"We picked the tasks because they were all physically and mentally demanding and most importantly, they required a great deal of teamwork," expounded retired Command Sgt. Maj. Cliff O'Brien, who currently works with the unit's initial training program.  "The tasks required leadership and accountability while at the same time required everyone to work together, coordinate workload and put out a great deal of physical effort."
Boisselle told the players that whether it's on the battlefield or on the ice, it is important to be able to look to the left and right and have no doubt in your mind about accomplishment of the mission ahead, whatever that may be.
"Any 'team' or 'organization' should feel that they would rather be short a team member than to have no team concept or someone that you have any doubts about prior to execution of the mission," he said. "Give 110 percent, 100 percent of the time."

Cadre running the event agreed that the players did an extraordinary job in accomplishing all tasks. Their coming together as a team, combined with their superior physical conditioning and mental toughness, gave them an edge to exceed every standard.

The team signed autographs for the soldiers and their families following the day out on the field.

"Initially they were a little dazed and confused being out of their element," said O'Brien. "Once they grasped the scenario and situation they came together very quickly and worked in a coordinated and effective manner as one team.  They quickly realized it would take all of them working as one to get the tasks completed."

Predators Head Coach Barry Trotz agreed, "This was really something to see a group of young men come together."

O'Brien believes they left with another concept as well. 

"I think that the team now has a better appreciation for what our Soldiers do today in defending their freedom," he said, "and that everyone on the team, regardless of their job or specialty, is important and integral in accomplishing every mission." 
The day concluded with an informal ceremony marking the successful completion of the team's orientation visit.

"What you went through today was a little bit of a gut check that we use in the 160th to establish the ethos of never quit and always taking care of our buddy," Lt. Col. Dean Heitkamp, 160th deputy commander, told the team. "We're glad you were able to come out and get a little taste of that."

On behalf of the Predators, Trotz took a moment to express his thanks to the Night Stalkers for hosting their visit.  

"I think we really have to appreciate what the people at Fort Campbell and the Night Stalkers do for us, our country, and the freedoms that we have," he told the soldiers and families in attendance. 

Before boarding the team bus and heading home, the players participated in a meet-and-greet session with those in attendance.
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