This is one in a series of stories about Eugene/Springfield and the Afghanistan and Iraq wars produced by students in Dan Morrison's NewsLab class at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communications. Morrison embedded with Marines in Helmand province in August 2010.
EUGENE, Ore. - William Taylor thought he had a good grasp on what being a leader means.
"I've been a team captain in sports," said the third year Military Science cadet in the ROTC program at the University of Oregon, "but now I have this new understanding of how to communicate to people."
Taylor comes from a military family; both his father and brother pursued careers in the military. He chose to start by going to college - and joining ROTC.
"I think this is an awesome way to kind of jumpstart my life," he said. "It's definitely an in-road to the military. This way, I was able to do my academics and my athletics."
The ROTC has shaped him as a person, Taylor said, giving him a strong foundation of both morals and military work ethic.
And like athletics, teamwork plays a role. During a rapelling drill at Hayward Field, older ROTC members helped teach the newer members the basics.
Then they took it to the next level:
The ability to work as a team helped Taylor encourage his fellow cadets as they prepared to rapel down a fire station tower.
A look of accomplishment filled the eyes of cadets as they reached the ground.
"ROTC is an incredibly diverse program. There's something in it for everyone," Taylor said. "If you want to be that high-speed cadet and do every bit a task work, that options open for you. If you're really busy with academics, it's more than accomodating."