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What it Takes to Be a Navy Student-Athlete

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There is a special place where the scholar-athlete is constantly raising the standard of excellence. And, there are special people who choose to become those athletes. Here, in both the sporting arena and classroom, and as part of a family of midshipmen over four thousand strong, he or she prepares today to be a combat leader for tomorrow.

This special place is the United States Naval Academy, one of the nation's most revered educational institutions, founded on the principles of Honor, Courage and Commitment.

And by choosing to wear the Navy Blue and Gold, these Midshipmen compete alongside and against the best in Division I athletics, while joining the generations of Navy athletes who have transcended the fields of play.

Committing to the Naval Academy's mission of developing young men and women morally, mentally and physically means becoming part of a team whose alumni include not only Admirals and Generals, but Olympians and All-Stars in the game of life.

Past members of the intercollegiate athletic programs sponsored by the Naval Academy have excelled in service to our country and beyond.

They have become Rhodes Scholars, explored outer space, distinguished themselves in the worlds of science and technology and helped shape our universe as leaders in government and business.

All are lifetime members of one of college athletics' most elite orders, the men and women who demanded enough of themselves to compete on behalf of the United States Naval Academy.

Of course, to fulfill the ultimate mission of the Naval Academy, every Midshipman who is a student athlete reinforces the value of total teamwork.

Immediately, student-athletes learn to pull together to achieve collective goals. Soon the bonds from one teammate to another are tight enough to last a lifetime.

Within each of the 33 varsity athletic programs, those "family ties" - already unbreakable - are made even stronger. Members of the Navy teams often refer to themselves as the "Brotherhood" or the "Sisterhood."

When asked what they value most from their playing days in Annapolis, most - if not all - speak of their relationships with teammates. As teammates they learn and exhibit:

  • Goal Setting
  • Taking Direction
  • Leading/Following
  • Example Setting
  • Peer Motivation
  • Overcoming Challenges
  • Dealing in Adversity
  • Lifelong Friendships
  • Unified Pride
  • Achieving Success
  • Winning Mindset

Conditioning For Combat
There is no such thing as an off-season for a varsity athlete.

Conditioning programs are conducted all year, taking up the "free" time that their classmates and company mates may enjoy. It is typical for athletes to gain muscle mass, strength and weight over their four years by the bay in order to compete at the highest level of NCAA intercollegiate competition. For those in sports that require such physical growth mass, football and wrestling for example, the challenge to lose the weight after exhausting eligibility and meet commissioning standards is one that only a few in the Brigade experience. On the other hand, many athletes on the Wrestling, Sprint Football and Lightweight Crew teams must lose weight simply to meet competitive weight standards allowing them to compete as a representative of the Naval Academy. The dedication of these athletes to meet a multitude of standards, on and off the field, goes well beyond that of their fellow midshipmen at the Naval Academy and other participants at colleges and universities around the country.

Simply The Best
As truly America's team, the Midshipmen maintain their broad profile by traveling the country to compete against many of the best teams and individuals in college athletics.

Just as the Navy football team annually meets Notre Dame and longtime rivals Air Force and Army in games of great national interest, the Academy's other programs compete against schedules of comparable caliber from one coast to the other.

In conference play, the Midshipmen are aligned with similarly prestigious universities whose teams field genuine scholar-athletes. Most Navy programs vie for championships in the Patriot League, while others contend with Ivy League institutions.

Directing the Midshipmen in the athletic arena are a veteran group of coaches distinguished by an extensive collection of milestones and honors, coaches who are dedicated to developing Mids on and off the field. Their resumes are rich in experience with success on the national and international levels.

They all play a significant role in it's mission, where the scholar-athletes they train ultimately compete for a higher purpose.

Representing the Naval Academy at the highest level of intercollegiate competition takes dedication, time management and sacrifice that is often unseen by those who do not or have not participated at the varsity level. Missed class, physical demands, weekend travel, lost leave, injury and mental challenge are all part of the daily life of the Midshipman varsity athlete. Rising at 5:00 a.m. to row on the Severn in the cold early dawn or swim in the pool before the rest of the Brigade awakens is "another day on the Yard" for many athletes. Arriving at the end of the evening meal in King Hall and having only a few minutes to eat and get to study hall is standard practice. Long bus rides to and from competition sites week in and week out requires studying en route and late night academics upon their return. For those who succeed in doing it all, the time commitment above and beyond the "normal" routine is significant. We are fortunate to have such men and women, comprising almost one-third of the Brigade, who work so hard to excel in their sport and to represent the Brigade of Midshipmen and the Navy/Marine Corps Team so well, so often and in so many different venues around our great country.

The greatest attribute of these athletes is they are not looking for special recognition or the "spotlight" for their sacrifices. They simply appreciate understanding from their professors, instructors, and company officers of the demands in their life.

When you see a varsity athlete around the Yard, give him or her a pat on the back and a big "Go Navy!" They represent you.

Pride And Passion
Just as the entire Brigade of Midshipmen is educated about the rich history of the Naval Academy, forged by the heroes who have preceded them, each student-athlete dons the Blue and Gold seeking to carry on a will to win and a tradition of excellence.

The trademarks of all Navy teams are pride and passion. We never quit and compete to the final whistle. Fueling each is the knowledge of those athletes who came before and the accomplishments they attained as winners on and off the field. The realization that extra effort and sacrifice is the only way to achieve the excellence of those who preceded our athletes of today.

Former student-athletes like Roger Staubach and David Robinson served as military officers, became two of the greatest athletes in the history of their respective sports, and enjoyed great success in the business world.

Others, like Alan Shepard and Wendy Lawrence, saw their athletic careers end upon graduation, only to apply the lessons learned through sport to epic achievement in life. For Shepard, competitive lessons learned on the Navy crew team would later help him become the first American to journey into space and Lawrence would soon follow in the exact same footsteps.

Of course, Midshipmen are also driven by the recent success their teams have enjoyed on the national landscape. For decades many teams have achieved regular and post season success. Recently lacrosse, rifle, soccer, basketball, water polo, wrestling, cross country, track and field, gymnastics, sailing and tennis teams have advanced to the NCAA Championships and the football team has appeared in eight post season bowl games in succession, representing not only the Brigade of Midshipmen but the entire Navy/Marine Corps team to the nation and world.

Against our counterparts from West Point, continuing a college rivalry second to none in the nation, the Midshipmen have dominated the all-sports series in 32 of the last 34 years.

Such are the expectations that Navy's scholar-athletes continually exceed. As individuals, through varsity competition, they learn and exhibit:

  • Will to Win
  • Mental Toughness
  • Passion
  • Unselfish Commitment
  • Competitiveness
  • Inner Strength
  • Physical Conditioning
  • Confidence
  • Honor
  • Integrity
  • Winning Attitude
  • Sportsmanship

Total Commitment
Scholar athletes at the Naval Academy are challenged every day to set the standards and lead the Brigade in:

  • Academic Achievement
  • Conduct
  • Aptitude for Commissioning
  • Honor
  • Graduation Rate
Our athletes are expected to be leaders among leaders on the yard, role models for all Midshipmen.

How Do They Do It?
Midshipman varsity athletes must meet all of the daily requirements of the normal Midshipman and then some. Year round practices take up to 20 extra hours per week, as well as extended travel, missed class time and missed weekends and holidays. Rare is the case when free weekends appear on the very demanding schedules of these dedicated athletes.

In the fall, in-season teams return from summer leave early and miss almost every liberty period extended to other Midshipmen in order to compete on Saturdays and Sundays while representing the Naval Academy.

Besides missing weekend liberty, the winter teams miss most of Christmas leave to compete around the country and, similarly, spring teams compete over spring break. Hundreds of our varsity athletes have academic periods that are blocked from scheduling to allow for enough practice time to compete successfully. These blockers result in the athlete giving up five more free periods during the week in which to accomplish his or her personal business, engage in extra instruction, or simply relax or study.

A Midshipman Time Study conducted by the Office of Institutional Research quantifies that athletes at the Naval Academy are spending equal time in class and less time in study hall or on liberty than their classmates. To do that, and still lead the Brigade in graduation rates, and have comparable grade point averages takes an extra dedication and meticulous time management in order to succeed at all that they do.

Navy athletes have recently led the NCAA in graduation rates and have been in the top four in seven of the last eight years.

Additionally, institutional research shows that letter winning athletes remain in the service longer than their non Varsity counterparts fulfilling the Naval Academy's mission of "…graduating leaders who are dedicated to a career of naval service…."

Varsity Athletes at the United States Naval Academy

  • 33 varsity sports offered by the Naval Academy Athletic Association
  • More than 500 competitions per year
  • More than 30% of the Brigade competes in varsity athletics
  • 42% of all female midshipmen are varsity athletes
  • More than 1,200 athletes represent the Academy at the NCAA Division I level
  • The Naval Academy has 10 conference and league affiliations
  • Varsity athletes graduate at a higher rate than the Brigade
  • More than 50% of the varsity athletes engage in community outreach programs
  • Varsity athletes wear our blue and gold with pride as representatives of the Brigade of Midshipmen
  • Successful varsity teams promote Academy spirit and alumni support
  • Varsity athletes are loyal and committed to representing our institution with dignity
  • Varsity athletes ... "expect to win" ... on and off the field
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