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Preparation, Teamwork, and Mindset

(Academics, Athletics, Class of 2021) Permanent link   All Posts
Felicia Lombardi

Like most other cadets, I applied to the Academy with a resume that was bursting with extracurriculars. I was a two-sport varsity and club athlete, active volunteer in my community, AP student, exercise enthusiast, etc. High school was one giant juggling act of practices, events, and exams, and I thought I was ready for the circus. Much to my surprise, I quickly discovered that finding the balance between academics, athletics, adulting, and military is by far the greatest challenge at the Academy. All considered, the marvel of the Academy is in rising to each challenge as a team and getting the job done no matter what. In my opinion, the best way to avoid drowning in the weight of your responsibilities at the Academy is preparation, teamwork, and mindset.

The same way you prepare for a game by practicing, you must prepare for life at the Academy, as much as humanly possible. For the most part, I am prepared for surprise, mandatory corps-wide events when the Commandant decides to pay the Academy a visit. I am prepared for an impromptu game cancellation that is rescheduled the night before a major exam. I am prepared for pop quizzes and emotional days. Most importantly, I am even prepared for the nights I am just too tired to be productive. Organization is your best friend at the Academy. I have a color-coded white board and desktop calendar, so I can see all upcoming events and assignments. Sometimes the rainbow of colors can become overwhelming, but there are few things I find more satisfying than erasing completed assignments off my board and watching my weeks get easier as they go. Once you find your own system, life gets much easier, and coaches and professors are more than willing to work with you.

As for teamwork, I make sure to take time every day to see my friends and teammates. I realize that hanging with friends seems counterproductive when there is a lot to do, but with everything going on at school, it is easy to get swallowed by stress and responsibility. The great part of the Academy is that everyone around you shares that stress to some degree, and when you are there for other people, they are there for you. On my toughest days, my friends will lift me up, help me out, or calm me down. On my friends’ toughest days, I will do the same for them. Moreover, most anybody at the Academy, regardless of how well you know them, will be there for you to pick up the slack when you need it. I have played on teams my whole life, but none compare to the genuine camaraderie of the Coast Guard Academy.

Lastly, mindset is everything when it comes to the challenge of balancing a schedule. Most cadets are overwhelmingly Type A personalities. We are competitors, perfectionists, and hard workers. We like to excel at what we do, after all, that is the mentality and drive that earned us our appointment. When you are juggling so much, there is always going to be a day when you drop one of the balls. Although, just because you dropped a ball does not mean you have failed. I try to remember that all my high school accomplishments were a direct result of hard work and training both on the field and in the classroom. At the Academy, time is limited and days are exerting. Everything I achieve here is a direct result of passion and heart, and for me, that carries a lot more weight. I may not swim as fast as I used to, or score as many goals, or have a perfect GPA, but I am loving every second of who I am becoming and what I am working for.

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