“One more time!”
“Don’t stop now. You’ve got this!”
At 5 a.m. on a mid-July morning, voices of encouragement could be heard on the soccer fields at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College’s Perkinston Campus. The voices were part of training for the women’s basketball team as they experienced mental and physical challenges unlike any they have encountered before.
During the week of July 19-23, the team found itself in the 27:17 Iron Sharpens Iron Bootcamp, designed to help them discover their weaknesses and strengths and to find ways to complement each other as a team. From 5 – 7 a.m., each morning, they were put through drills of various kinds, testing their physical, mental and teamwork skills. Led by Perkinston Campus Police Chief Emma Baptiste, their drill instructors included members of Perkinston Campus Police, Gulfport Police Department and Harrison County Sheriff’s Department.
“Women’s basketball coach Hope Adams requested a bootcamp for her athletes, and we happily obliged,” Baptiste said. “I understand many bootcamps are what they are – several workout sessions, hard and challenging, no doubt, but just that…workouts. After listening to what Coach Hope wanted this camp to be for her athletes, we took it a step further. We wanted it to have a deeper meaning that would help with team bonding and motivation to successfully launch them into their season.”
Adams said the time was well spent. “The bootcamp was an excellent opportunity for the team to get to know each other, work on setting individual and team goals, and to kick our year off in the best manner possible,” she said. “I can tell the difference in each player’s attitude as they have honed their commitment to making this an outstanding season.”
The camp’s name is based on Baptiste’s favorite Bible verse. “Proverbs 27:17 says, ‘As Iron Sharpens Iron, so one person sharpens another.’ When I read that, I see that an iron blade of the spear is just dull iron without another iron blade to sharpen it. So, the athletes were mentally and physically broken down like that dull iron blade and built back up sharper with the premise that they are to not only sharpen themselves, but they must sharpen the other teammate before they can even become that champion team or spear.”
As an added bonus to honing team skills, Baptiste said she also wanted to bridge the gap between students, citizens and law enforcement. “I enlisted the assistance of my campus police officers, two Gulfport Police Department detectives and a Harrison County Sheriff’s Department investigator to function as our camp leaders,” she said. “They did an outstanding job, and we are grateful for the outside agency partnership and participation.”
Baptiste said she hopes other leadership bootcamps like this one will follow. “I am excited about the idea that other college and community groups will contact us to conduct these kinds of camps. It was very successful, and we are thrilled to offer the opportunity to any group or team.”
For more information on the 27:17 Iron Sharpens Iron Bootcamp or other leadership camps, contact Chief Emma Baptiste at email@example.com.