2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner

Warzeka takes sinister pleasure in yelling at cadets during basic training

Published: July 27, 2011, 4:31 pm, by admin

Receiver Jonathan Warzeka is a genuinely nice and polite guy, even though there will be a freshman class at Air Force who might recoil in horror when they see him at the academy.

Warzeka was the assault course cadet in charge during basic training this summer, which basically means he and his squad were in charge of harassing the incoming freshmen. The assault course is probably the most intense part of basic training. Warzeka didn’t help make it any easier, yelling at them to do pushups or testing their mind when they were exhausted by asking questions about Air Force or American history.

“It’s hilarious being on the other side, making them do the most ridiculous stuff,” Warzeka said.

And just in case you think the mild-mannered Warzeka didn’t enjoy making life difficult for the incoming cadets, then he starts talking about the part of the assault course in which they put on padding and helmets, grab pugil sticks and start to battle each other.

“It shows a lot about a person when you get punched in the face, what you’re going to do,” Warzeka said.

Well, then.

All joking aside, Warzeka’s job was to transform not just himself into a menacing figure for basic training, but convince his team – which included fellow laid-back Air Force athletes like A.J. Wallerstein, Brady Amack, Taylor Stewart and Michael Lyons – they needed to be mean, too. The point of basic training is to simulate battlefield conditions and push incoming cadets’ limits physically, emotionally and mentally.

“We’re supposed to be intimidating,” Warzeka said. “You’re supposed to be in their face.”

Warzeka said he was able to be intimidating, even though that is entirely against his personality. He said other athletes did well to play the role of heckler during basic training.

“It was pretty funny seeing the other side of people,” Warzeka said.