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cadet blogs

Running Down a Dream

(Athletics, Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Culp Photo Actually, not really a dream… I never had grand aspirations of running a full marathon until last May. In fact, if you had told 4/c or 3/c me that I would ever run more than three miles at once, let alone 26.2, I would have run far, far, away from you. (Nah, scratch that. I would have power-walked, because I didn’t do that whole “running” thing.) But some switch flipped in 2/c me. My marathoner friends certainly influenced me, but I think the interest stuck when I realized that running actually doesn’t have to be miserable. I go at my own pace, on my own schedule, with my own goals and, believe it or not, running became one of my favorite hobbies. Maybe it’s because I know I’m taking care of myself; maybe it’s because my workouts are the 1 to 2 hours where I truly do get to be left alone; maybe it’s because I have seen a significant and rewarding increase in my fitness over the last couple of years. Regardless, I have, at this point, completed two half-marathons and a full marathon! 4/c and 3/c Abby are calling 1/c Abby insane right now; but, so far, running those miles is one of the most awesome blessings from God in my life.


Physical fitness is a crucial part of cadet education (hence physical fitness exams twice a year), but I’ve learned working doesn’t have to be some brutal task you drag yourself through miserably every day. The Academy allows you to explore many different athletic activities to find just the right fit for your interests and abilities. For some, that takes the form of a varsity team for the sport you always played in high school – baseball, soccer, swimming, basketball, rifle, sailing, and so on. Others jump into new clubs to investigate activities like ballroom dancing, equestrian sports, or fencing. For people like me who aren’t really into the competitive nature of varsity or even club athletics, you can snag your mandatory sports credit doing something low-key like intercompany sports, and focus your efforts on those individual hobbies that make you genuinely happy and remove stress. I’ve found my athletic niche in casual, fun runs around the New England area, despite coming in as an out-of-shape swab who avoided that dreaded activity…but thanks to some awesome runner friends and the Academy’s focus on physical fitness development, that’s all changed. I can’t wait for the next race!


More about Abby.


With Freedom Comes Responsibility

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2019) Permanent link
Silliman Photo So, at the Academy I see a lot of people struggle with academics. But for me it was different. I really struggled more on the military side of things. I remember entering 4/c year, and completely brain dead from Swab Summer, did not know really what I should do to approach the academic year. This is after being trapped in the unfree environment of Swab Summer for two months, where I was told everything I had to do. I the school year introduced a new set of challenges that I was not use to, and unlike in high school, I struggled to manage my time. I now had to get work done during the day as I did not have as much free time in the evenings. I now had to balance academic work with military responsibilities as well as the basic living responsibilities my parents took care of for me. What helped me get through my first semester as a fourth class was having a good set of leaders who helped me develop into a more effective follower.


The second semester was different. I had to find leadership outside of my immediate superiors for guidance. Probably the big thing I learned second semester at the Academy was that here people are surrounded by good leadership, so if someone is not getting the guidance they are looking for from their immediate superiors, there are plenty of other people they can turn to.


I also learned a lot about the type of leader I want to be, and I think it is important to understand that while leaders have expectations of their followers, followers also have expectations of their leaders. If people care about their followers, I feel it is important to care about what their followers think of them. Coming out of fourth class year and a great summer at both a cutter and a station, I felt in order for leaders to earn the trust and respect of their followers, they have to be observant of the personal challenges and obstacles their followers face beyond what they immediately see.


I have two fourth class of my own now that I am in charge of, and probably the greatest privilege that comes with 3/c year is that now I am in charge of someone else. But this is not just a privilege, it is my greatest responsibility. I think it is very easy, in the chaos of everything, to see how lucky my shipmates and I are to be here, but I feel now that I have made it this far, it is so much easier to remember how fortunate we are.


More about Derek.