FORT RILEY — After a week of competitions that ranged from flag football to water polo with nearly every soldier on post in participation, a battalion champion was crowned Friday at Custer Hill Parade Field.
The Victory Cup is awarded to the battalion that combines for the top score after 27 events.
This year, the Special Troops Battalion, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, led by Lt. Col. Dana Stowell, took the week’s top prize. It was the first time such a special troops battalion won the Victory Cup since the competition started in 2008.
“I’m really excited for the battalion,” Stowell said shortly after receiving the cup from Maj. Gen. Paul Funk, commanding general of Fort Riley and the 1st Infantry Division. “This is an indicator of the excellence put forward everyday, so this is just an opportunity to demonstrate that for the division and the local community out here today.
“I can’t be more proud of the soldiers.”
Sgt. 1st Class Millard Gibson, of Junction City, coached the basketball team to a championship for the second year in a row.
Like with all the Victory Cup events, the basketball segment was done just like the March Madness tournament – win or go home.
Gibson said they won basketball title — and the cup overall — with team effort.
“I’m just one piece,” he said. “I only had two returning starters from the championship team from last year, so we put together a good team and they came out and played.
“We had to go into overtime in one of the games and pulled it out, and in the championship game, they just played their heart out. They all wanted the cup, they all wanted victory, and they wanted to be repeat champions.”
Stowell said his battalion was just short of the cup last year.
“The colonel and sergeant major came in with the mindset that we were going to win Victory Week,” Gibson said. “So we put the teams together to make sure that happened.”
While most of the Victory Cup events are athletically based, one, the Color Guard competition — which kicked off the games on Tuesday — is more based in ceremony and precision.
Stowell’s battalion won that, too, and it’s a win he’s very proud of.
“That’s about drill and ceremonies — it’s about traditions,” Stowell said. “That team does that for our brigade headquarters, and they take a lot of pride in carrying the national colors, the brigade colors, or at times they are carrying our battalion’s colors. The colors represent everyone in the organization.”
This year a new event, water polo, was added.
Although both Stowell and Gibson said they had had no experience with the event beforehand, the battalion’s team won that event, too.
Stowell said the battalion assigned a coach for water polo that was aggressive in researching the sport and finding a way to win.
“Our motto for the battalion is ‘trained and ready,’” he said. “So that’s the way we approach each and everything.”