OXFORD, Ohio – All 321 Division I women’s soccer teams opened training camp over the last few weeks – filled with two-a-day practices, but what Miami’s team went through during a two-day military-style bootcamp named “The Program” Aug. 11-12 may be the toughest thing the RedHawks face all season.

Gathering on its practice field at 4 p.m. sharp for a workout, Miami was quickly ordered back to its locker room by Master Sergeant Glen Cederholm, an active 17-year veteran of the United States Marine Corps, to clean up the room, but still be back on the field in eight minutes. Much to Cederholm’s surprise, the RedHawks were back in just over eight minutes.

“I was pretty nervous when he came in and starting yelling at us right away. It was a wake-up call and I wasn’t really expecting it,” said freshman goalkeeper Vic Maniaci.

Then the “four quarter” workout began. Senior forward Katy Dolesh was chosen to lead the first quarter of the bootcamp last Sunday, a grueling rendition of calisthenics. Everyone had to be in crisp straight lines and in sync during the drills.

“The toughest part for me personally was just stepping up and being a vocal leader because I’ve always used my actions to lead and this time I had to really use my voice and project, and not just talk to the group, but yell at them and tell them what to do, so that was a very different experience,” Dolesh said. “Physically it was tough, but since we were all doing it together and we all knew each other’s pain, it kind of helped get each other through it and cheer each other on.”

After completing the opening exercises, sandbags and log poles were put in to play. Sergeant Cederholm, a sniper team leader who has served seven tours of duty, explained the second quarter activity to junior midfielder Kelsey Dinges, who then in turn had to relay the drill to her team. The RedHawks had to get in three lines, each one lifting a log pole up and down while some members of the line did sprints carrying sandbags. After several struggles with transitions and finishing in reasonable time, and several regroupings led by Dinges, and several more tries, Miami finished strong on its last attempt.

“Being mentally there and also physically, it was a real challenge after you were tired to also be there mentally to help your team continue on, because if you messed up you had to start over, so that was a big thing,” explained sophomore midfielder Jess Bronke, who led the third quarter activity.

The third quarter consisted of carrying a teammate up and down the field, trading positions at the turn.

“My first thought was ‘how far?’ and second thought was ‘I don’t know how we were going to do it piggy-back style’, but the fireman carry was definitely easier,” freshman midfielder Taylor Jackson said. “It was all mental.”

Working in pairs, the RedHawks lifted their teammates on their shoulders fireman-style and scooted to the 18-yard box. There, the partners flipped roles and hustled back to the end line. Next it was out to midfield. And eventually the other endline. As the distance to travel grew each time, the players grew together to complete the task.

“It was really difficult to be in charge of yourself and say the right things, but still be in charge of the whole team and have them doing the right thing so we could get the task done,” Bronke admitted. “And having him (Sergeant Cederholm) yell at you was very interesting.”

Wrapping up with the fourth quarter, Miami completed day one of bootcamp with more challenging exercises. In all, the RedHawks were on the field getting better and improving as a team for over three hours.

But that was only the first day of “The Program”. And although sleep was probably much needed, it would be in short order as workouts resumed at 5 a.m. Monday in the Nixon Aquatic Center. The RedHawks were treated to swimming laps, treading water and doing calisthenics in between pool exercises just outside the pool.

“I think the swimming because it took a lot out of you,” said Maniaci of the toughest part of bootcamp. “He (Sergeant Cederholm) wanted you to go across the pool and then do exercises on one side and then go across and do exercises on the other and just go back and forth a bunch of times. That was hard.”

Following the completion of bootcamp, the team earned a much deserved break, getting Monday afternoon AND Tuesday morning’s practice off. Head coach Bobby Kramig was pleased with what he saw from the defending Mid-American Conference champions.

“I think that kind of team building exercise is not for everyone and not for every team. It was very difficult. It was physically challenging, mentally and emotionally it was twice as hard as it was physically difficult,” Kramig said. “I was confident these guys were ready for it and I was very pleased with how they rose to the challenge. They kept their composure, they responded well. I was really impressed with the way they performed. I knew they could do it and they certainly didn’t let me down.”

Although it was extremely challenging and trying at times, the players know it will make them better for the upcoming season.

“I think it helped bring the team together. I definitely think it made us stronger and know that we can push ourselves a lot further than we think we can,” Dolesh, the 2013 team captain, said. “It helped in a different way than last year’s team bonding (which was a rafting trip), just making us stronger and trusting in each other.”

As a newcomer, Jackson wasn’t completely prepared for bootcamp but knows it helped both her and the team.

“I definitely was not expecting something that difficult, but it definitely helped with team bonding,” she said. “I definitely felt closer with all the girls and I understood what they were saying about symbolizing a hard season after coming off a great one last season, so I think it’ll be great for the team.”

With the team’s first and only exhibition on the horizon Saturday, Aug. 17 at Xavier, Kramig feels his team is ready for anything.

“I think that first of all, I don’t know if there’s anything they’ll face this season that’s as tough or as difficult as that was, so it should certainly give them the confidence they need to take on difficult and challenging things and we play a difficult and challenging schedule this year,” said the veteran head coach in his 31st year at Miami. “I think that they will have a better sense of how to handle adversity and a better sense of how a leadership structure needs to operate and every single one of them now realizes that they can perform very well under conditions of extreme stress. I think if you asked these kids, they would tell you after the first hour, ‘I didn’t think I could do this’ and then when it was over, I think some of them were disappointed.”