Managing the assault course made for a busy summer for Air Force defensive lineman

August 2, 2014 Updated: August 2, 2014 at 10:11 pm
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Notre Dame quarterback Andrew Hendrix, front, is sacked for a loss by Air Force defensive lineman Dillon Beschel late in the fourth quarter of Notre Dame's 45-20 victory in an NCAA college football game in Air Force Academy, Colo., Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Battling a crowded group for a spot on the Air Force defensive line will not be the most difficult thing Dillon Beschel has done this summer.

Beschel, a 6-foot-5, 240-pound senior from Spokane, Wash., was in charge of the assault course at basic training, which turned into an all-encompassing endeavor.

"Honestly, it was a lot more work than I thought it would be," said Beschel, who applied for the responsibility knowing the course was generally heavily staffed by football players and soon found himself wearing multiple hats.

The first job was to form a staff for the course located in Jacks Valley that tests basic cadets physically and mentally by throwing unexpected challenges at them along the way.

"There's only a select amount of people who can work on it, so right off the bat people are asking you left and right," Beschel said. "So you've got to make decisions and break bad news."

Beschel anticipated the decision-making would end there, as he figured officers would relay to him what they want to see out of the course and he would simply be in charge of implementing those directives.

But that wasn't the case. His input was welcomed in how to make the course fit with the theme of basic training and to then figure out how to make that work with a limited staff.

Then came the fine-tuning.

"Pretty much a bunch of different parties come and observe the course, and everybody wants something different," he said. "So you're constantly making adjustments and making people happy. Sometimes things contradicts each other, so you try to compromise. It can be quite the balancing act.

"It's probably the highest visibility course down there," Beschel added. "Every general or officer who comes down there during the summer wants to see that course. So it's also a lot of meet and greet and discussing the mission of the course and the purpose behind it."

While most of the work was done beforehand, Beschel still had to log hours once the basics actually hit the course.

He took on a management role in that phase, making sure his team was staying within the parameters discussed.

That would occupy his time from about 6:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., then he'd report for workouts with the football team.

"I absolutely love it," coach Troy Calhoun said of Beschel taking a major leadership role in basic training. "Those kind of leadership opportunities are why they are here."

Beschel's next task will be filling out the necessary paperwork to apply for pilot training. That must all be submitted in mid-August, and the management major will learn later this year if he is selected.

First, he'll try to be selected for a spot in the defensive line rotation.

He's part of a crowded group that includes Samual Byers, Riley Cannon, Nick Fitzgerald, Alex Hansen, David Harris, Troy Timmerman and Ryan Watson.

Beschel appeared in seven games last year, making three tackles.

Regardless of how the competition turns out, it's been an interesting summer for the senior.

"I'm glad I did it, but I'm glad it's over," Beschel said.

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