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Army ROTC Spotlight: Cadet Taylor Coombs

Brian Luppy

In the world of Villanova’s Army ROTC program, Taylor Coombs, a freshman cadet, proves that adaptability and determination are the name of the game. Coombs dove headfirst into the military fray, turning each obstacle into an opportunity for personal growth. 


“I didn’t know what to expect going in because I wasn’t a part of the JROTC program in high school, and I had no military experience so I was going in blind,” Coombs said. However, her initial apprehension was swiftly replaced by a positive experience.


The most rewarding aspect for Coombs has been the camaraderie she discovered within the ROTC community. 


“It’s a group of connections you have on campus and everybody’s been so friendly and helpful, especially as a freshman where you’re coming in very intimidated,” she said. The transition to the structured environment was the most challenging, with early morning wake-ups posing a significant adjustment.


In terms of personal growth, Coombs attests that ROTC has been instrumental. It has not only enhanced her physical fitness, but also provided a framework to maintain it. 


“Coming in, I was not a runner. This past weekend, I did a six-mile ruck,” she proudly said. “Rucks” are a combination of running and walking with a hefty thirty-five-pound rucksack on the cadet’s back. 


The discipline and structure inherent in ROTC have allowed Coombs to thrive academically, as well.


The early morning wake-up calls, a staple of ROTC life, have become a source of empowerment for Coombs. 


“I feel like I’ve lived a whole day before anybody else wakes up,” she said, painting a vivid picture of the discipline and structure ingrained in the program.


Coombs’ decision to join ROTC was influenced by her athletic background and a desire for personal development. The financial support offered by the program through scholarships also played a role.


“My personal values align with a lot of the army’s values,” she said. “I’m a very structured person, I’m athletic, I am always in search of more leadership opportunities.” The program’s emphasis on organization and discipline resonated deeply with her.


Balancing the demands of being an ROTC cadet with academic commitments has been a seamless transition for Coombs. She thrives in a busy schedule and appreciates the structure that both academics and ROTC provide.


The program has imbued Coombs with invaluable skills in teamwork, leadership and discipline. The meticulous attention to detail, from uniform preparation to punctuality, has fostered a strong sense of discipline. 


“ROTC’s big thing, at least at Villanova, is if you always show up in the right uniform with the right attitude, you will succeed,” Coombs said, emphasizing the importance of attention to detail.


She acknowledges that witnessing the upperclassmen take on significant responsibilities has been motivating and instructive. Acknowledging the instrumental role played by upperclassmen, Coombs commends their approachability and willingness to guide underclassmen.


 “I have been very impressed with the upperclassmen in ROTC,” she said, emphasizing the culture of mentorship within the program. “They have been so friendly.”


Coombs views her future in ROTC and beyond with optimism. She envisions a graduate program and is contemplating between active duty and reserves. The program has opened up a multitude of possibilities for her.


For high school seniors considering joining ROTC at Villanova, Coombs offers practical advice. She encourages prospective cadets to reach out to current members for insights and guidance. She emphasizes the importance of keeping an open mind and dispelling preconceived notions about military service.


“People think that the military is automatically people fighting on the front lines,” Coombs said. “There are so many other opportunities. The army has a job for everybody.”


In the vibrant tapestry of ROTC traditions, Coombs highlights the communal aspect of shared meals, particularly the cherished post-training trips to Wawa.


“[We’re] very food-driven in our traditions,” she said, underscoring the camaraderie that forms over shared meals. “Wawa after practice hits different.”


Coombs’ participation in the recent Ranger Challenge was a highlight of her ROTC journey thus far.  The Army ROTC Ranger Challenge is the ultimate test for ROTC cadets from different universities. They go head-to-head in a yearly competition that pushes them to their limits, both physically and mentally. This event is a big deal in the ROTC world, known for being tough and highly respected. The competitive environment and the opportunity to interact with like-minded individuals from different schools left a lasting impression. Villanova’s ROTC team achieved a remarkable feat by clinching first place in the rigorous weapons assembly event this year, assembling about ten weapons in roughly a minute and thirty seconds. This victory showcases our ROTC’s exceptional teamwork, precision, and dedication. 


“If we could do that, we could do anything,” she said. 

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