MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Approximately 1,000 Marines, sailors and family members of 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, held their annual family day and field meet Aug. 14, 2014, at the W.P.T. Hill Field aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. The event gave members of the battalion a chance to introduce their families to the unit, and build unit cohesion through athletic competition.
The original idea for the Spartan Cup came from retired Gunnery Sgt. Justin G. Smith, according to Harmony J. Hutman, the battalion's family readiness officer. He created the event as a reward for the Marines for completing a series of difficult training events and deployments. Today, the event has evolved into a highly anticipated, annual tradition of fun and fierce rivalry.
Last year's field meet took place in Okinawa, Japan. The planning team took some of the most popular events from the Okinawa meet and added some fresh ideas for this years' cup. This years' meet included softball, flag football, basketball, kickball, skeet shooting, tug-of-war, couples challenges, inflatable bounce houses, a dunk tank, ring toss, sand boxes, a misting station, face painting, cornhole competitions, hula-hoop contests, three-legged races and a fitness challenge.
The winners of each event earned points for their company, and the company with the highest total points at the end of the competition won the Spartan Cup. The event was named after the trophy, which is modeled after a Spartan battle helmet. The trophy demonstrates the battalion’s reverence for the Spartan warrior ethos and resides with the winning company for an entire year, until the next Spartan Cup.
According to Capt. Dustin J. Dodge, the battalion air officer and officer-in-charge of the field meet, originally from Lisbon, New Hampshire, winning the Spartan Cup means bragging rights for the entire year. Marines of every rank like to boast about their company's superiority whenever the opportunity arises.
One of the participants, Lance Cpl. Jake A. Scanlan, a rifleman with Company G, 2nd Bn., 6th Marines, says his company takes the competition very seriously.
"It's win or die," said Scanlan, originally from Petaluna, California.
For the families who attended the event, the day was about more than just the competition. Hutman believes that these types of events can provide the families a chance to meet and engage the support network available to them from the unit.
"Having the families be able to come out and enjoy themselves with us is a great step toward letting them know that they can rely on us for things as well," said Hutman.
At the end of the day, the battalion gathered for one final tug-of-war. The two teams pulling at the rope, Weapons Company and Company F, were tied in points and the Spartan Cup was at stake. Although both teams were exhausted from the day’s events, a vigorous battle ensued as neither company was interested in second place. When the dust settled, a new champion was crowned.
Lieutenant Col. Jim W. Lively, the battalion commander, presented the Spartan Cup trophy to the victors, Company F.
“You’ve earned the trophy for this Spartan Cup, take good care of it,” Lively said.