It’s an eerie sight to behold when a location accustomed to the bustling activity of thousands of cadets a day putting feet to treadmill, the reverberating sound and thud of weights, the splashing of water in the pools, the crashing of fists against punching bags or the dribbling of basketballs on the court is now silent—dead silent. The deafening quiet in Arvin Cadet Physical Development Center caused by 4,400- plus cadets and 71 staff and faculty members in the department of physical education being told to stay home because of COVID-19 is a sound and sight unseen in U.S. Military Academy history.
The Physical Pillar is one of four pillars cadets must achieve to become an officer in the U.S. Army. The mission of DPE is to develop warrior leaders of character who are physically fit and mentally tough by engaging cadets in activities that promote and enhance physical excellence. However, what does that look like when everyone is not centrally located and is without supervision? This is where the character and mental toughness of these future officers is put to the test physically when not only Arvin or various sports venues at West Point aren’t available to them but gyms across the country are closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and now creates a workout equipment availability void for them.
The Director of DPE, Col. Nicholas Gist, said there are positives coming out of it right now with cadets across the country getting on social media and creating various challenges to stay in touch and keep in shape, while being creative and innovative with their workouts and making it work.
There are seven classes DPE teaches within its curriculum; however, through remote learning, only two classes are currently taught to cadets—PE215, Foundations of Personal Fitness, to primarily yearlings, and PE450, Army Fitness Fundamentals, which is taught predominantly to firsties.
“Those are the only two classes we can teach via remote learning, and those are even somewhat modified because they both include physical activity labs,” Gist said. “The other five physical education courses we can’t teach right now. We simply can’t achieve course objectives given the requirement to be face-to-face, to interact physically and a spot to use very specific equipment. A course like boxing, we can’t teach that course, it is just not possible. But we will be able to make those up in the future. Where we are focused right now is on the firsties and PE450 (for graduation requirements).” Read more.