Football may take the spotlight in the fall and basketball in the spring, but this summer, four Virginia Tech students competing against other schools in a physically and mentally intense obstacle course will be featured this summer for millions of viewers on ESPN, the world’s most widely watched sports broadcasting network.
The BattleFrog College Championship will air on ESPN at 8 p.m. each night from June 30 to July 2, and will feature a team of four Virginia Tech students — who didn’t meet one another until the night before their flight to the competition.
BattleFrog competitions are expertly designed obstacle course races created by Navy SEALs and SeaBees. The College Championship race, located in Lake Lanier, Georgia, is a relay short-track obstacle course that consists of 20 obstacles over a 350-meter track; each leg of the relay consists of one student competing in five obstacles over approximately 100 meters. The 16 teams represent colleges and universities from all over the country and are each made up of two men and two women. Teams race first for a time trial to determine their seed, and each subsequent race is single elimination, leading up to the finals. The winning team will receive a $10,000 grand prize.
This is the second year of the BattleFrog College Championship. Last year, Virginia Tech came in third after a narrow defeat by Ole Miss, who will compete again this year. West Point Academy was crowned champion, and they return this year to defend the title. Also returning is the University of Virginia, who finished right behind the Hokies last year.
Though this year’s competition took place in March, results have been kept secret ever since, building excitement for the summertime airing.
Virginia Tech’s 2016 BattleFrog competitors are:
- Eric Lamberton of Shohola, Pennsylvania, a senior majoring in psychology in the College of Science
- Elaine Lewis of Stafford, Virginia, a senior majoring in communications in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences
- Zachary Tritsch of Woodbridge, Virginia, a senior majoring in management in the Pamplin College of Business
- Nicole Smith of Columbia, South Carolina, a recent graduate of the College of Science who is now a master’s student studying biology.
Lamberton and Tritsch are members of the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets, both in the Army ROTC track. Because of army training this summer, Lamberton and Tritsch will not be able to watch the original airing of the episodes, so they’ll rely on friends and family to record the shows to watch later this summer.
Smith and Lewis work for Recreational Sports. In fact, Rec Sports was the avenue in which Smith and Lewis heard of BattleFrog.
“When I first started working for Rec Sports, I had no idea how much the department would mean to me down the road,” said Smith. “Being a part of the Rec Sports community has really helped me develop my people and professional skills and try so many new things that I wouldn’t have tried otherwise — including BattleFrog.”
Each member was hand-picked by last year’s team members and were required to submit an audition video to BattleFrog as part of the selection process. Though they all trained for months in advance of the competition, they did not meet until the day before flying to Georgia together.
“Our team came together like a blind date — or double blind date,” said Lamberton. “My favorite part about the whole competition was getting to know Elaine and Nicole. We went into this competition with almost complete strangers and left with the closest of friends.”
Training for the BattleFrog competition looked different for each of the team members, but all relied on focusing their current fitness routines to prepare for obstacle course exercises.
“Because Zack and I are both cadets, we were exposed to many organizations that prepare cadets for more rigorous careers in the military,” said Lamberton. “We joined Tactical Applications Company, Virginia Tech’s special operations prep team, and we became subject-matter experts at the Virginia Tech obstacle course. This prepared us the most for BattleFrog.”
Though she is a civilian student, Lewis is in the Platoon Leaders Class (PLC) for the Marine Corps with plans to commission as an officer when she graduates. Through PLC, Lewis, too, used the on-campus cadet “o-course” often.
Smith and Lewis tailored their workouts at McComas Hall to increase their upper body strength, as most obstacles involved pulling oneself over something.
Outside of their extraordinary fitness feats, each member of Virginia Tech’s BattleFrog team is deeply involved in their Virginia Tech experiences. Lewis is president of Gamma Phi Beta sorority, Smith works on research with cancer cells, and Lamberton and Tritsch serve as leaders in the Corps of Cadets.
Keep track of the BattleFrog College Championship via social media on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Follow the hashtags #BFCC, #BattleBetter, and #BattleFrog, and tune into ESPN to see how Virginia Tech’s team finished.
Written by Holly Paulette.