The team with the golden gun

Willis SkillsUSA building team qualifies for state


photo or infographic by Reid Henderson

CLEAR. During a practice night opps event junior Chase Wiederhold participates in the clearing of the building. Wiederhold is a member of the team that qualified for state in Skills USA.

With adrenaline high, as each corner is checked, the Willis Building Clearing squad competes for the gold at SkillsUSA. All of their hours spent learning tactics, memorizing positioning, training and long nights have led to this moment. 

Last week, the Willis Law and Public Safety Academy’s SkillsUSA team competed at Beaumont for the District 7 meet. The building clearing team, which specializes in live scenarios where a team of four clears a building for potential threats, placed first in the meet and qualified for state. The program is in its first year of existence and is now a state qualifier, some feel the story feels like it is out of a movie. 

Making it so state our first year as an official academy feels amazing,” junior Andrew Murray said. “It is an incredible feeling and preparation for this event took out many afternoons for weeks after school. We used the CTE center to practice and perfect our craft, with our instructor, Mr. Kennedy, over how we could improve.”

Showing up to the competition in the commissioned uniforms made the Willis Skills team stand-out as it soon learned it was not the standard for other schools competing. 

“Other schools took notice of our professionalism,” junior Brianna Benavides said. “We made sure to look professional at all times and I think we set the bar very high.”

With expectations low and preparation high, the newly formed team was able to show out and put Willis on the map as a serious competitor. 

“I feel like making state our first year is a huge accomplishment,” junior Chase Wiederhold said. “If we can do this with as little preparation as we had, then I cannot wait to see what we can do with the future of the program. The bar is now set, and I am excited for what the future holds both at State and next year.”