CNHI News Services
In Oklahoma State’s season opener against Savannah State, the Cowboys scored 84 points.
That meant 84 pushups for Army Sgt. Issac Grunewald.
As 60,000 people looked on, Grunewald, the primary military instructor for the university’s ROTC program, climbed onto a wooden board and ripped off 84 pushups, one for each point that the Cowboys had scored, continuing a tradition of the ROTC pushup board that began in 1997.
Grunewald wasn’t the only one to knock out a whopping number of pushups that day. Cadet Kevin Black, an 18-year-old from Bartlesville, did 77 pushups about a half hour earlier.
“It’s a big adrenaline rush,” said Black. “Normally, you might hesitate and get tired when you do that many, but at the game you just keep going. When I did my 77, I felt like I could keep going for a while.”
Cadets sign up to be a member of the 11-person pushup board team, and have tryouts each Thursday prior to the game to see how many pushups they can do.
“Then we just line them up in order on who can do the most pushups, the least pushups,” Grunewald said. “And obviously, the cadets who can do the most pushups, we save them for later in the game. Anybody in the (ROTC) program can be on the team as long as they can do pushups.”
The team also includes an officer in charge who counts the pushups and makes sure that the pushup team does not interfere with the game.
When the Cowboys score, and after Bullet runs off the field, the pushup board team goes on the field and begins to perform. The officer in charge will lead the team off the field when the game resumes, even while the cadet is finishing the pushups.
“I don’t know that we benefit the football program. They let us do it,” said Grunewald. “But I know the fans enjoy it. The students in the corner count out the pushups and pound their paddles on the wall. It builds a camaraderie with them and us.”
The pushup board team includes young women as well. And yes, they do regular pushups.
“There is no difference for the females,” said Cadet Kelsea Schultz, a senior from Pond Creek who operates as officer in charge.
“There is no discrimination,” said Grunewald. “It doesn’t matter if you are male or female. It’s based on how many pushups you can do.”
Grunewald said that a woman is on the team each week and usually gets a chance to get on the board for pushups.
Cadet Emily Bonner has been on the board several times.
“My first time, it was my freshman year, the first game, I saw myself on the big jumbotron,” she recalled. “So I was looking at myself doing pushups the whole time. It’s amazing. You feel like you are the center of attention. ... The board moves around a lot. It’s tiring up there because the board isn’t level and it moves. And we do the pushups like the guys, no girl pushups. I think it’s good they get the females up on the board. It shows women that, hey, we can do this too, not just the guys. And hopefully, seeing us, maybe that would inspire someone to want to be in the program.”
Grunewald said there are approximately 95 students in the ROTC program at OSU, and 85 percent of them sign up to be members of the pushup board team at least once.
“It’s fun. I’m not even a big football fan, but I like to do pushups,” Black said. “It’s something I can tell my kids about later on in life, that I was on the pushup board.”