A dynamic duo has helped re-write history for the Randolph Macon academy drill team.
Gabriel Rivera and Fatoumata Diallo’s family each saw Randolph Macon Academy in Front Royal, Virginia as a place where they could thrive and do well in academics and extracurriculars.
“We’re originally from Puerto Rico, but we moved to Northern Virginia, in Fairfax a couple of years back, and at my old high school things were getting a little bit out of control,“ Rivera says.
“I was before at international school of Dakar which was in West Africa and my mom wanted us to come to the United States.“ Fatoumata Diallo says.
They each started at the academy as shy sophomores, but joining the drill team was something that brought them both out of their shells.
”It made me feel good, it made me feel a part of a group part of a family. In drill what I learned most is that it takes a team“ Fatoumata Diallo says.
The drill team has not placed high in competition over the years. But with hard work and help from their drill team lead, Tina Laing, and alumni they not placed top 10 in state competition, they were invited to compete in the national competition last week in Ohio. The drill team and the duo shined.
“Being extremely sharp, creating your own routine and seeing who has the most creativity and ability to perform on the drill pad,“ Rivera says.
The two cadets who are seniors at the school get to step across the graduation stage as national champions.
“They called 5th, 4th, 3rd, 2nd, we didn’t hear our names, and then they say in first place,“ Diallo says.
“Unarmed exhibition duel, Randolph Macon academy yellow jackets, he didn’t get to finish his sentence,“ Rivera says.
Laing says the two have helped re-define what it means to be on Randolph Macon’s drill team.
“If you were to go back and ask each of the 34 members on this years team, what does drill mean to you, they all have one word in common, family,“ Laing says.
RMA cadets are already preparing for their next competition–defending their AFA Virginia state drill championship title in April.