Oct. 9, 2013
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Naval Academy Director of Athletics Chet Gladchuk announced today that Becky (Dowling) Calder's jersey No. 32 will be retired by the Naval Academy Athletic Association. The ceremony recognizing Calder will be held Jan. 11, 2014, as part of the nationally televised Army-Navy women's (1:30 p.m.) and men's (4 p.m.) basketball doubleheader in Alumni Hall.
Calder, a member of the Class of 1998, will become the first Navy women's basketball player to have her number retired.
"Retiring number 32 brings immeasurable pride and a wonderful sense of accomplishment to everyone who has represented Navy Women's Basketball for 38 years," said Gladchuk. "Becky is the beacon of leadership through example, accomplishment and inspiration. On the court, in the classroom, in the Fleet, and in her home, Becky has set the bar as a role model who exemplifies the values of our Academy. She is honorable beyond reproach, has displayed courage in all her endeavors, and brought great commitment to the advancement of women in sport."
"I am humbled beyond belief by even the thought that the Naval Academy has chosen my jersey to retire," said Calder. "There have been so many incredibly talented women who have represented the USNA on the court that played before me, with me, and after me, women who could literally run circles around me. It has been a long time since I have worn that jersey, but I can honestly say that it was basketball that led me to the Naval Academy and ultimately shaped the course of the rest of my life. This is truly an honor and I hope that my jersey will inspire young women to strive not only to play college athletics, but also to serve their country."
"It's going to be an amazing day for the women's basketball program when Becky's number is retired," said Navy head coach Stefanie Pemper. "A few years ago, our staff researched the legends from the `NWB' past and hung their pictures in our office and locker room as something for our current players to feel pride in. Seeing a woman's jersey in the rafters of Alumni Hall is an honor whose time has come. Becky Dowling was a woman who truly did it all; she scored, rebounded, defended, played through injury, was a selfless team leader who made others better, and her teams won a boatload of games. Kudos to Chet Gladchuk and the sports information staff for making this event happen."
The arrival of the 5-11 guard from Longview, Wash., to The Yard in the fall of 1994 helped spark the first era of successful Navy women's basketball teams in the Patriot League. After placing no higher than in a tie for fifth in Navy's initial three campaigns as a member of the league, the Mids placed third in both 1995 and `96, second in 1997 and shared the league's regular season title in 1998. Navy also enjoyed great success in the postseason with Calder on the roster. The Mids advanced to the semifinal round of the Patriot League Tournament in each of her first three years before becoming the first Navy team to appear in the championship game of the event during her final season. The 23 wins posted by her 1997-98 team remains the most accrued in a single year by a Navy squad, while the 80 career wins tallied by her Class of 1998 ranks second in school history to the 81 victories attained by the Class of 1999). Individually, Calder ranks third in school history for career wins (76) and career winning percentage (73.8%) by a single player.
Calder herself was a highly decorated player. She garnered both Patriot League Rookie-of-the-Year and Second-Team All-Patriot League honors in 1995 before earning first-team all-league laurels in both 1997 and `98. She was the first of only four Mids to receive a trio of all-league nods in a career. Calder also was selected as the Adm. Larson Award (team MVP) winner as a junior and senior, served as the captain of the squad in each of her final two seasons and was the recipient of the 1998 Vice Adm. Lawrence Sword for Women, which is presented to the woman of the USNA's graduating class declared by the Association's Athletic Committee to have personally excelled in athletics during her years of varsity competition.
Calder ended her Navy playing career ranked among the top-10 school leaders in 14 career statistical categories. This includes her name being atop the lists for offensive rebounds (313), defensive rebounds (610), total rebounds (923), rebounds per game (9.0), steals (261), steals per game (2.53), minutes (3,557) and minutes per game (34.5). Today, 15 years after the end of her career, she remains in first place at Navy in total rebounds, rebounding average, steals, steal average and minutes per game. Calder also ranked second in Patriot League history at the time of her graduation in total rebounds (remains seventh) and stood fifth in points scored at Navy (now sixth) with 1,470 points.
She amassed those lofty totals while missing one-third of her sophomore season due to an injury. The second of four Navy players in school history to average double figures in points all four years, she was averaging in 18.1 points and 9.1 rebounds a game that season when she was lost for the remainder of the year after tearing the ACL in her left knee.
In the classroom, Calder posted a 3.38 grade-point average and garnered academic honors from the USNA in five semesters as an English major.
Upon graduating from the USNA and being commissioned as an officer in the Navy, she entered flight school in 1998 and received her aviator wings in July 2000. That same month she was assigned to VFA-106 ("Gladiators") out of Virginia Beach, Va., where she learned to fly the F/A-18 Hornet. She joined VFA-83 ("Rampagers") one year later and was deployed aboard the USS George Washington in support of both Operation Southern Watch and Operation Enduring Freedom.
In April 2004, she was selected to attend the U.S. Navy's Fighter Weapons School in Fallon, Nev., which is more commonly referred to as TOPGUN. Calder became first female pilot to graduate from the elite program while also earning the designation of Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor. She quickly put her new training into practice as in June of that year she began serving as an instructor at the Strike Fighter Weapons School Atlantic in Oceana, Va.
Calder was assigned as the VFA-105's ("Gunslingers") training officer in Virginia Beach beginning in January 2007. The squadron would soon be deployed aboard the USS Harry S. Truman in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. After two years with the squadron, Calder was assigned as the training officer for VAQ-129 ("Vikings") where she helped bolster the EA-18G Growler community out of the squadron's base at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in Oak Harbor, Wash.
Calder remained an instructional pilot for VAQ-129 after transitioning to the U.S. Navy Reserves in August 2011. She also began serving as the Air-to-Air Subject Matter Expert for the Growler Tactics Instructor Course at the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center in Fallon. In all, the Commander (select) has accrued over 2,500 flight hours and made 421 arrested landings, 185 of which occurred at night.
In August of this year, she and her husband, Adrian Calder, moved to Atsugi, Japan, with their two children, Tyler (two years old), and Charlotte (one). Adrian is on active duty for the Navy and currently serves as the executive officer for VFA-27 ("Maces").
The Naval Academy will hold a brunch in Calder's honor on the morning of Jan. 11, 2014, in the Bo Coppedge Room in Alumni Hall. All former Navy women's basketball players will be invited to attend. Additional information on the brunch will be forthcoming.