Cadet Summer Training

Spartan to Soldier

FORT KNOX, Ky. – If you ever ask someone who’s recently completed a marathon or even a Spartan Race what they’re looking forward to most now that they’re training and hard work has paid off, they might tell you that they’re looking forward to eating an entire pizza or taking time off to recover. For one Cadet in Advanced Camp, she might have told you something a little different.

Meet Cadet Lakoda Kissee, a rising senior at the University of Mississippi, a Cadet from 7th Regiment, Advanced Camp and a Spartan.

Out of the nearly 4,000 participants that participated in Reebok’s Spartan Race at Fort Knox on July 22, Kissee finished the 4.2-mile obstacle race in just about 92 minutes, placing 754th overall and 21st in her age group.

With weapons in hand, Cadets from 7th Regiment, Advanced Camp complete the 12-mile ruck march on July 27 at Fort Knox, Ky. Photo by Emily Peacock

Not even a week after completing the race, Kissee, as well as the Cadets and Cadre from 7th Regiment, Advanced Camp, strapped on her boots, her Kevlar and ruck sack and participated in the last must-pass event for Cadet Summer Training: the 12-mile ruck march.

“We were woken up around 2 a.m. and told to get ready for what would basically be our last test in Advanced Camp,” said Kissee.

Similar to how she felt at the beginning of the Spartan Race, Kissee said she could feel the adrenaline flowing.

“I was pretty pumped this morning,” said Kissee. “I was kind of nervous, but I always get nervous before competing in anything. But I’m definitely excited to finish.”

For most Cadets, the goal of the ruck march is to simply finish within the four-hour time frame. For Kissee, however, the goal was to not only finish under three hours (the time needed to receive the Recondo award) but to also be the first girl to finish.

Cadet Lakoda Kissee participating in the sandbag carry during the Spartan Race on July 22 at Fort Knox. Photo provided by Spartan Race.

Although her time after the Spartan Race was spent eating MREs and marching for miles with a 35lb ruck sack, rather than a pizza and some days off, Kissee spoke positively about her time at CST so far.

“It’s been a good challenge,” said Kissee. “I’ve been learning about myself mentally and pushing myself physically as far as I can possibly go.”

“It becomes one of those things where you have to shut everything out and apply the Navy Seal 40 percent rule, which is when your mind thinks you’re done you’ve only applied 40 percent.”

When talking about her time spent with her fellow Cadets, Kissee smiled before saying, “unit cohesion and team camaraderie are everything here.”

“I’ve grown up playing sports and being a team player, so knowing that you have somebody else’s back pushes me and drives me, but at the same time someone has my back and that pushes me.”

When asked what she was looking forward to most after graduating from Advanced Camp Kissee had a peculiar request.

“I’ve been craving tacos and guacamole,” Kissee said in between laughs. “But more importantly, I’m just excited to see my family.”

Cadets from 7th Regiment, Advanced Camp relax after completing their 12-mile ruck march on July 27 at Fort Knox, Ky. Photo by Emily Peacock

For Kissee, it’s been several months since she’s seen her family. Before arriving at Fort Knox, Kissee spent three weeks in Latvia participating in the Cultural Understanding and Language Proficiency Program (CULP).

When asked which event she enjoyed most, the Spartan Race or the 12-mile ruck march, Kissee wasted no time thinking about her answer.

“I had so much fun during the Spartan Race,” said Kissee. “I could do whatever I wanted and however long I wanted to do it in. This on the other hand has a lot riding on it so I actually have to push myself to finish under a certain time frame.”

Whether it’s jumping over fire pits or rucking until the sun comes up, one thing is clear: Kissee is both Spartan and Army strong.

Kissee and her fellow Cadets from 7th Regiment, Advanced Camp will graduate from Cadet Summer Training on Aug, 1.

                  

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Emily Peacock

Originally from Worcester, MA, Emily Peacock is a rising senior at Penn State majoring in public relations and psychology. Emily is spending the summer as a Public Affairs intern for Cadet Summer Training, working as a photographer and writer. In addition to her time at Fort Knox, Emily has also served as the media relations director for Penn State's John Curley Center for Sports Journalism's trip to document the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games for the Associated Press. Emily is also a tour guide at Penn State and is an avid member of the club cross country team.

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