By Melissa Engle/Assistant news editor

Eastern’s ROTC program hasn’t always been known for its Pershing Rifles team, but that might soon change. The team traveled to Fort Monroe, Va., last Saturday to compete in a national competition. Although they did not win the championship title, Eastern brought home four first-place trophies – one for each event they entered.

The team, in its third year of existence, participated in categories such as squad drill, inspection, twirling and color guard.

“There’s a fine line between doing something and doing something right,” Lee Canafax said.

This is Canafax’s first year on the Pershing Rifles team. He said he enjoys the drill and ceremony aspect of being on the team and plans to continue as long as he is in college.

Pershing Rifles was founded in 1891 when Gen. John J. Pershing wanted to increase motivation and esprit de corps among his military cadets at the University of Nebraska where he was a military science professor.

In keeping with the tradition, Colonel Morris thought it to be a good idea to begin the team again, bringing in Christina Amschler as a leader of the group. Amschler is a junior from Louisville and participated on the drill team while in JROTC in high school. She has been with the team since its rejuvenation three years ago.

“Eastern had a strong history (of Pershing Rifles), and it died down and now it’s growing again,” Amschler said.

Amschler anticipates the membership enrollment to increase next year as it did this year. She said it has reached the highest it has been in three years and maybe next year the team can participate in all the events offered.

Membership may rise not only because the winning efforts of the team this year, but possibly because of the camaraderie it creates, Amschler added.

Members of the team said the hardest part was the practicing at 6 a.m. each morning for an hour and a half to master each technique. The team had this regiment for the past three months.

“The complaints were endless the past three months … but their hard work really paid off,” adviser Sgt. 1st Class Robert Welch said.

Reach Melissa at