Army's best trainers compete at the 2017 DSOY and PSOY Competition

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Story by SPC Tynisha Daniel on 09/19/2017
After a week of intense competition, the 2017 TRADOC Drill Sergeant and AIT Platoon Sergeant of the Year has come to an end.

As one the Army's most physical and mentally demanding competitions, the five day event gives opportunity to the Army's leading non-commissioned officers (NCOs) to compete for the titles of Drill Sergeant and AIT Platoon Sergeant of the Year at Fort Leonard Wood Miss., Sept. 12-15.

"It's a chance for the Army's best trainers to showcase what they know," said Sgt. First Class Brandon Laspe, the noncommissioned officer in charge of this year's competition. "What really makes it important is the comradery that this builds, the teamwork."

This years competition hosted 16 competitors marking it as the first year that a single Drill and AIT Sergeant winner be selected from the combined active and reserve component competitors.

The change was welcomed by competitors who don't see a reason to differentiate between the active and reserve components.

"I think having one winner is the right thing to do, we're all one Army," said Staff Sgt. Justine Bottorff, a Buffalo N.Y. native and U.S. Army Reserve drill sergeant assigned to the 98th Training Division (Initial Entry Training).

Participation in this elite competition not only builds morale and comradery among the competitors, it enhances their personal skills and readiness.

"Every time I've competed in any military competition I've come away better and stronger in knowing more than I did before," said Laspe, the 2016 PSOY and NCOIC for the 2017 competition.

In contrast to other Army competitions the DSOY focuses not only on the physical aspect of competition but also the mental. For example, where most competitions grade an initial physical training test, at the DSOY and PSOY level, competitors are also required to teach a PT module as well. This aspect reflects their ability to demonstrate their day-to-day duties as required by their work with initial entry Soldiers.

U.S. Army Reserve Drill Sergeant, Sgt. Christopher Moses, 95th Training Division (IET), was able to work his training for competition around his civilian employment and use his time on the trail to prepare.

"I arrived here a month ago, and I was able to train here and back home to prepare for the competition, "said Moses. "I came in expecting long days, we had to hit the ground running,' said Moses.

The competitors' days began before dawn and ended late into the night.

"Picture the Army in your mind, that's pretty much what they're being tested on," said Laspe.

With events such as day and night land navigation, multiple obstacle courses, a 12-mile ruck march and combatives, the competition's extended days weren't just another duty day for the competitors. "It's such a large variety of tasks, it really highlights the total Soldier," said Laspe.

Organizers view this competition as pitting the best against the best and simply completing the tasks and seeing it through to the end as a victory.

"The thing that I really want them (competitors) to take away is that sense of pride and accomplishment in knowing that they made it to this level," said Laspe.

The 2017 Drill Sergeant and Platoon Sergeant of the Year are Drill Sergeant, Staff Sgt. Chad Hickey, representing Fort Leonard Wood, Miss., and AIT Platoon Sergeant, Staff Sgt. Brian Ivery representing Presidio of Monterey, Calif.

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