Virtually Nothing Can Stop This DSOY Candidate

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Every year the Center for Initial Military Training conducts the Drill Sergeant of the Year (DSOY) competition at different TRADOC installations. The competition typically takes place over a four-day period and aims to bring the Army and Army Reserve top Drill Sergeants together for a chance to win the top honor—the Drill Sergeant of the Year award. The competition is physically and mentally demanding, and challenges competitors to push through fatigue, weather and surprise events over the multi-day event.

Competitors are tested on various subject areas such as orienteering, rifle marksmanship, physical readiness training, Army Combat Fitness Test, first aid, rappelling, unknown distance runs and foot marches, general military knowledge, uniform inspections, Method of Instruction, and Drill and Ceremony. Competitors are expected to perform these tasks proficiently as well as excel in teaching these tasks to trainees in a simulated environment.

One Division Soldier is no stranger to these competitions. Sgt. 1st Class Shane M. Price, a Drill Sergeant in Charlie Company, 1-415th, 2nd Brigade, advanced through several competitions to compete in the TRADOC competition in August. The Phoenix, Arizona native has previously competed for Soldier of the Year in 2010 and Noncommissioned Officer of the Year in 2016. Also, Price won the 108th Training Command’s competition in 2018 and was set to compete at the TRADOC competition, however, was unable to attend that year since the competition would conflict with his first year of law school. Unfortunately, the school Price planned to attend had lost its accreditation and he to put his law school and DSOY dreams on hold. Needless to say, he was eager for another opportunity to be named DSOY.

Knowing that the winner of the DSOY competition goes on active duty for a year, Price had a tough decision to make. “It was the opposite from 2018 when I put school first,” said Price. This time he had decided to put law school on hold and prioritize the DSOY competition.

Unfortunately, this year’s competition didn’t go to plan either. Due to the novel Coronavirus, COVID-19, this year’s competition was conducted at various Basic Combat Training and One Station Unit Training installations with the DSOY Boards conducted virtually.

“I prefer competing in the physical environment,” said Price when asked how competing during the pandemic felt, “because it feels like you are competing with and not against people, and you can see how you’re doing—you can learn and network from each other.”

Price said his driving motivation this year was the Soldiers that he competed with at the battalion and brigade level.

“I competed with them before. And some of them I beat. I wanted to win for them, because they were such strong competitors,” explained Price.

Usually, at these competitions, the Drill Sergeants are able to size up their competition throughout the four-day event. One of the first indicators of how you are doing compared to others is during the physical readiness event. The Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) is a six-event test that replaced the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) as the test of record in 2019. When asked his feelings about the new ACFT in comparison to the old test, Price stated that he believed the new test shows more of a Soldier’s athleticism and fitness, because it pulls out your strength.

“It’s not as redundant and you have to train for it,” says Price, comparing the new test to the former.

The first time Price had ever taken the ACFT was during the brigade level DSOY competition at Camp Bullis, Texas, in February, where he scored 560 points. Staying in shape and physically active has proven difficult for many people during the lockdowns and gym closures imposed by the pandemic. However, gym closures were a nonissue for Price, because he was already working on setting up a home gym.

“I started buying weights and squat racks off auctions,” said Price when talking about how he was able to train for the ACFT. “It’s too hot to run outside in Phoenix, so I was playing roller and ice hockey two times a week to keep up with my cardio.”

Price said one of the positives to come out of the period of time when most bars and restaurants were closed was that he was able to focus more on his nutrition. The Army’s top leaders in fitness and nutrition have all agreed that proper nutrition is a vital part of training for the ACFT. This test takes longer to administer than the old physical fitness test and requires very different muscle movements. Soldiers need to consider a more holistic approach to training—not only physical fitness, but mental alertness and overall health. I probably forget to mention that Price conducted his ACFT for the TRADOC competition with a broken toe—clearly, he was determined to be excel. That determination paid off and earned him the top score of all the competitors. Price scored a 598 out of 600 possible points on the ACFT.

Though Price was not named DSOY, he took another prestigious award home at the end of the competition—the 1st Sgt. Tobias Meister Award. Meister was a Drill Sergeant in the 95th Training Division and won the Army Reserve DSOY award in 2002. While at Drill Sergeant School, Meister’s perseverance and determination earned him the Excellence in Fitness Award when he scored 356 points on the extended scoring scale– out of a possible 300 – on the APFT. Meister went on to serve as a First Sergeant in the 321st Civil Affairs Brigade, where he was killed in action by an improvised explosion device while deployed to Afghanistan. In 2009, TRADOC named the DSOY physical excellence award after Meister and began awarding it to the competitor with the highest physical fitness score.

When Price was announced as the winner of this award, his division Command Sergeant Major, Robert Potts, shared with him the history of this award. Potts and Meister served as Drill Sergeants together actually competed for DSOY against one another in 2002.

“Command Sgt Maj. Priest [108th Training Command CSM] also told me about Meister,” said Price when talking about his reaction to winning the award, “combined with his and Command Sgt. Maj. Pott’s stories of him really drew a true picture of how badass he really was.”

“When I got the history of the award, I was really proud that I could bring that specific award back to the division,” said Price.

Price said he had a lot of people to thank for his success during the competition. He thanked DSOY Devin Crawford, winner of the 2018 competition, Sgt. 1st Class Bradford Griffith, and Staff Sgt. Benjamin Latham for pushing him this year. Griffith helped coordinate and conduct the Division competition and trained Price and his fellow competitors up for the USARC and TRADOC level competitions. Latham competed with Price and they pushed each other to win in their respective categories in competitions leading up to this point. Latham is currently representing the 108th Training Command (IET) at the Army Reserve Best Warrior Competition, hoping to be titled the Noncommissioned Officer of the Year.

Price also credited his Brigade Command Sergeant Major, CSM Roberts for being one of his biggest supporters.

“[It] was like having your dad root for you at your football game,” explained Price.

So, what’s next for Price? He has plans to attend Officer Candidate School (OCS). His board meets in November to determine if he will be awarded a slot. Price’s primary Military Occupational Specialty is Military Police; however, he recently reclassified as a Combat Engineer and would like to go to Sapper School—the joint-training course for elite combat engineers. Also, if given the opportunity, Price would like to attend Ranger school. In addition to his military aspirations, Price still has plans to attend law school in the near future.

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