Bay Shore Fire Department’s Sr. Redskins Drill Team just won first place in the New York State drill team championship this past weekend. It was their first state title since 1992.
Redskins’ captain Eric Lyman said the team goes Upstate almost every Saturday to compete in the tournaments.
“There were 44 teams … from all the way out in Riverhead, Cupsogue, to Buffalo, to Alexandria Bay and all over the state,” Lyman said.
This time the seniors brought their A-game to all that competition in Utica.
The tournament is broken up into eight races that can take up to five hours-long to complete.
The Motor Class C- Ladder race is among the most challenging of the eight race categories.
“Four team members and a driver ride the trucks with a ladder attached. There are different starting points on the race track for the two types of trucks,” explained Kevin Butler, a Bay Shore assistant chief. “The ladder team then dismounts from the truck, raises the ladder and the climber will then climb to the top.”
In the bucket brigade contest, four members from each team footrace to the ladder.
Then, they climb the ladder and pass the buckets until the barrel at the top of the arch is full.
“These are all done at a very fast pace and high rate of speed,” Butler told us.
Aside from the weekend treks Upstate, competing at a high level takes hours of practice each week as well.
The team’s captain, Eric Lyman, told us the effort can be grueling, but worth it.
“It’s like a second job for us, with all the time that we put into it,” he said. “The seniors train for three hours a day, twice a week. They are also required to watch special videos as a part of their training program.
Being a drill team member is a year-round effort, he said.
“We start practicing the first week of May, all the way to September,” he said. We workout at the gym in the off season, and we work on getting the trucks ready with any necessary upkeep.”
The seniors had a broken truck in July, but their allies from the Lindenhurst Fire Department worked out a deal to get the team back in action.
Lindenhurst allowed the team to use one of their old trucks, and as a result the Redskins completed the championship races. “If we weren’t given that truck, we would’ve ended up losing by one point. That was a big deal for us,” the 31-year-old said.
And a bit of history was made when the senior team won the state championship with another town’s truck.
“That’s never been done before,” Lyman said.
Though the Redskins scored no points in the first three races, they powered through at the end.
“If you win each contest, you would score a total of 40 points,” Lyman explained. “Forty points is the max. So, the first three contests, we didn’t score anything. And then out of the last five races there was 25 points total we could’ve scored. We scored 19 of the last 25 points.”
The Redskins are set to kick off their victory party in the form of a parade this coming Saturday at 7 p.m., starting at 2 Tillie St. in Bay Shore. The top five teams in New York State will be joining them in the celebration.
“Then, we start resting and getting ready for next year,” Lyman said. “It doesn’t stop.”
Featured Photo: A firetruck wash-down celebration to welcome the champs home to Bay Shore last Saturday. Top: The 2018 state champion Redskins. (courtesy photos)