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Northern Comfort

(Just for Fun, Class of 2025) Permanent link
Mack Bucki

Thanksgiving is one of the most celebrated holidays in the Midwest. As the holiday break begins, elementary schoolers bring home their hand-traced turkeys as mothers decorate their cornucopias. The weather is mild for a northern winter but signals the beginning of snow coat season. For sports fans, it serves as the prelude to the biggest rivalry game in college football: Michigan vs Ohio State. This day is a time for gathering, whether it be around a dinner table or a 65’’ flatscreen.

My fondest autumn memories come from the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade in Detroit. As a child, I was amazed at the enormous balloons that were marched through the same roads mom took on her daily commute. To see over the huge crowds, dad sacrificed his shoulders for me and my twin sister. Then, when it was all over, we would hurry back to the warmth of our car and make the thirty-minute drive back home.

Leading up to the big night, mom prepared for the monsoon of aunts, uncles, and cousins coming for the annual feast. We bought enough pounds of turkey, cans of cranberry sauce, and sacks to potatoes to feed a pack of lions. My nana always took Thanksgiving as an opportunity to show off her baking skills. She would bake enough for everyone to have a whole pie to themselves! The delicious food was only a highlight of the true meaning behind the event- to spend time with everyone, even if it was just for one day of the year.

The big finale was watching the football game that Saturday. Annually, our Michigan Wolverines took on their biggest foes- the Ohio State Buckeyes. We suited up in maize and blue, invited our fellow super-fans over for a cookout, and sent up a prayer in our favor. Unfortunately, these wishes were usually left unanswered, and our college team’s performance would end up sending waves of disappointment throughout the mitten. Yet, if Thanksgiving taught me one thing, it’s that food and faith is all you need to bring people together. And cursing out the refs on tv is something that can only be enjoyed together as a family.

Happy Thanksgiving! And Go Blue!


Fall Biking Adventures

(Extracurricular and Faith-Based Involvement, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2025) Permanent link
Mack Bucki

Back home, I would ride my bike almost everywhere. My evenings were spent peddling down dusty backgrounds on my beloved green Giant. A bike that was infinitely times more reliable than my 2008 Ford Fusion beater. Although there were not many places to go, some of my favorite memories come from those relaxing bike rides. Here at the Academy, I have carried over my favorite hobby to manage the stress that comes with being a 4/c cadet. Here are some of my favorite spots around the Academy for a relaxing fall biking adventure!

#1 – Fire Street

Dubbed “Fire Rd.” by the triathlon team, this bike route feels like a roller coaster! It is a hilly eight-mile trek to get there, but that all pays off once you reach the cascading downhills of the street itself. By your return the Academy, your sore quads will remind you of this fire-y workout!

#2 – Holmberg Orchards

Directly across the Thames is a small town called Gales Ferry. There, I found Holmberg Orchards- a small farmers’ market and u-pick center with a variety of fresh produce. They sell Macintosh apples the size of softballs, the juiciest peaches, and fluffy apple cider donuts (but only on weekends!). This family-owned agribusiness is worth a visit, whether it be by two wheels, or four.

#3 – Misquamicut Beach

The beautiful scenery on the way to Misquamicut Beach makes the long ride from USCGA worth it. My sponsor family were the first ones to introduce me to the Rhode Island coastline and I just knew I had to go back! Although it is a little touristy, the roads are not crowded at all. The shaved ice cart at the beach has dozens of different flavors to choose from; Maui Wowie (papaya and dragon fruit) is my top pick! And, if you get a long, you can enjoy a movie at their beach-side drive-in theater. Dig out your helmet and cross the state border the bipedal way. Your quads may be sore, but the journey will be worth it!

So, get out there and explore the great outdoors! As the leaves turn crisp and the wind turns chilly, a New England winter is right around the corner. Head down the bike room and dust off your cruiser for an autumn ride. Happy Fall!


Focusing On My Final Memories

(Extracurricular and Faith-Based Involvement, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2022) Permanent link
Elizabeth Carter

Hello readers! I write this on more of a bittersweet note. I have successfully completed my final cross country season, after eight years of running the sport. When I look back at those four seasons at the Academy, and consider everything that has happened, I smile fondly. I can remember trying to be recruited from high school, and my times did not quite make the cut. I still tried out for the team, and four years later I am team captain. I can confidently say that being team captain will always hold a special place in my heart, over any sort of command or leadership within the barracks. Fall in New England will always mean 6ks at Harkness Park, cider mill runs to Clyde’s, and long runs through orange, red, and yellow leaves. My mother came up to watch one of my final races, and it was heartwarming to hear her stories and traditions from running on the team almost 30 years ago. This sport has always meant more to me than anything, and I accredit it with getting me through some of the hardest times at the Academy. For whoever is reading this, and may be interested in the team, please consider it. This sport has given me some of my best friends here, and we are a family.

Although cross country season is over, there is still work to do with Track and Field! I am beyond excited to hit the ground running for the indoor season and wrap up my running career at the Academy before commissioning. It is absolutely insane to think this is the final stretch. Even looking back on some of my older blogs bring back many memories of times long past. My days at the Academy are numbered, as I am often reminded by the countdown I keep on my whiteboard. It has become a sort of well -known thing around here, seeing as I live in a very congested passageway. Apparently, some of the Company Officers have taken a liking to my countdown as well, and continuously talk about their excitement for graduation (184 days!).

I know these final months will fly by, and I am trying my hardest to keep focused, get work done, and focus on my memories here while they still last. I don’t anticipate writing another blog before Thanksgiving and Christmas, so in the meantime, Happy Holidays, and good luck to all those applying early action! Please reach out if you have any questions!!


Back and Busy!

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2024) Permanent link
Sarah Kaleta

When I returned to school this semester, I hit the ground running as I am sure many cadets did. Though I was not too thrilled to start taking real Nav Arch courses, I was excited to see my friends all back in Chase again and even more excited to do more in-person events and meet new people. Already I have been able to go to off base events like sustainability club’s beach clean-up at Ocean Beach, travel with friends to NYC and nearby islands, row to Norwich with the crew team, and participate in some traditional military ceremonies. At the beach clean-up in Westerly Town beach over the weekend of September 18th with the sustainability club, I met some people who were part of the Ocean Recovery Community Alliance (ORCA). We helped ORCA with their beach clean-up competition by checking off items that kids picked up along the beach following a youth surf competition (Fig. 1-2). After the event, ORCA members gave our club president their contact information and encouraged us to reach out to them for summer internships! During liberty time, my friends and I have been able to venture to New York and even take a flight from the Groton Airport to Block Island (Fig. 3). It is nice to be able to get away for a bit on the weekends. On September 11th, after the morning ceremony, the crew team participated in the annual row to Norwich. My boat completed the row in about four and a half hours; we had a blast and got some sun (Fig. 4)! After the row, I participated in the Run to Remember which involved cadets running in groups of 8 every 20min from 0800 to evening colors with the national Ensign and Coast Guard Ensign in remembrance of those fallen in the 9/11 attacks (Fig. 5). Later that day I was part of the cordon which occurred during evening colors. With the restrictions of last year, ceremonies like this one did not happen, so I was glad to be part of the tradition this year. There are plenty more events to come and many more activities I am looking forward to!


Twelve Long Months

(The Cadet Experience, Swab Summer, Class of 2025) Permanent link
Mack Bucki

It was a muggy morning in the Midwest and time for yet another busy harvest season. I clocked into my shift at the local greenhouse while watching the cars whiz past on the neighboring highway. Instead of jamming out to my usual playlist, I decided to tune in AIM- the USCGA’s virtual summer program. As I set up irrigation tubes in the fields, I fell in love with the small New England service academy I had Googled on a whim. The Atlantic Ocean was seven hundred miles away, but I heard it calling my name.

A year later, I watched the sun set over the coastline I had dreamed about for months. It was the night before SWAB Summer and my last day of normal civilian life. On S-Day, the only thing on my mind was: what comes next? My parents dropped me off with my luggage and I entered a land of strangers. What followed was seven weeks of sore throats (from sounding off), burning shoulders (from static holds), achy backs (from standing at POA), and throbbing feet (from those dang leathers!). To say I surprised myself is an understatement. Back home, a t-shirt and jeans would be my UOD of choice, 1100 revelry was the standard, and “proper stowage” was a concept that was alien to me. However, my cadre quickly introduced me to my new normal. I turned in my civies in for a fresh set of study hour shirts and gym gear. I nearly fell out of my rack when a loud trumpet woke us up at 0530. I had my room SAR’d on multiple occasions for bringing my forgetfulness and clutter to Week 1. It was a culture shock for sure, but it was exactly what I needed.

As I reflect on my experiences here so far, I am reminded of my mom’s favorite saying, “Everything happens for a reason.” Each of us have our purpose in this world and discover what that purpose is in different ways. The Coast Guard Academy reeled me in like a Lake Erie perch on that hot summer day. My forehead was dripping with sweat, hands were caked with mud, and boots were dull as ever, but a spark ignited inside of me that shift. One that begs the individual whom it resides in to be Semper Paratus. Even if the moment you’re “always ready” for just happens to be twelve long months away.


Swab Summer & School Survival

(Academics, The Cadet Experience, Swab Summer, Class of 2025) Permanent link
Emma Deery

So, you’re considering attending the United States Coast Guard Academy. Step one? Swab Summer.

For the sake of you and I both, I won’t get too in-depth about those 8 weeks. I highly recommend checking out other cadets’ blogs (specifically Junna Castel’s- that’s what I read in preparation for my Swab Summer!) Another great resource is Erin Edwards on YouTube.

The biggest advice I can give anyone is to start your prep early. Physical fitness is no joke during Swab Summer; you’ll be running back and forth all day, and even if your day isn’t as physically intense as most, you’ll still be on your feet from 0530 to 2200. If you have never visited campus before, I have one word for you: hills. To save yourself (and your shins) any extra aches and pains, I recommend hopping on a treadmill and doing some cardio at an incline. Nothing crazy long or high, but enough to get your body adjusted if you only ever run on flat surfaces.

If you’re traveling far from home, you likely won’t be home until Thanksgiving or even Winter Break. Those 8 weeks with little to no contact can make you real homesick. Spend as much time with family and friends as possible, give your pets some extra love and attention, maybe even keep something with you to remind you of home.

One topic that was widely debated among my class before S-Day was whether you should study indoc before arrival. If you want to be a step ahead for Day 01, have the mission down by heart, but other than that, save the Running Light for your Swab Summer experience. The entire point of Swab Summer is to stress you out to see how you will react under pressure. Reporting in with every single word memorized verbatim will do nothing but hurt you: if the cadre figure it out, they’ll make you memorize something entirely different.

On August 14th, we were finally finished. Believe me when I say that the days are long, but the weeks fly by. As enthusiastic as we were to complete Swab Summer, you never truly notice how much structure it gave you until you have barely any at all. Going from having every minute of your day specifically blocked out to the freedom of your first year in college was quite an adjustment. Keep in mind that as a cadet, you won’t have nearly as much free time as your civilian friends. Military training, sports practice, and academics will quickly fill your schedule, leaving you to scramble for what little time you have and figure out how to best utilize it. Time management plays a major role in your success: as a cadet, as an officer, and even within your life outside of the Coast Guard.

Classes are going well so far: as a 4/c you mainly start with general education classes like Calc I and Chem I. Once you get to your 3/c year, classes get more major-specific. I’ve gotten better at managing my time, but there is always room for improvement.

Thank you for reading, and if you have any questions or want to know more about how my summer was feel free to reach out!