The Naval Academy ended their season 9-4, a solid feat for any team, but their bigger accomplishment: taking home the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy.
And today, President Obama presented the team with the trophy for the 2nd time in two years and 9th time in the past 11 years.
“This is a team that also had a knack for getting the job done under some pretty tough circumstances,” Obama said.
“And you kept on rolling through the games that really mattered. In the snow, you beat Army for the 12th time in a row — they’re starting to feel bad about this,” he joked. “You went on to beat Middle Tennessee State to win your first bowl game since 2009.”
The trophy represents the winner of the triangular series of military academies. Last fall Navy won the game against the Army 34-7 and Air force 28-10, securing the trophy Obama said “weighs about as much as I do.”
The game against the Air Force was in jeopardy last season as the government shutdown loomed. Obama commented that the Secretary of Defense “stepped in, gave the green light — which tells you how important it was.”
In addition to praising their on-the-field accomplishments the President commended their off-the-field dedication.
“What’s more impressive is the fact that for these outstanding young men, football isn’t even the main thing,” Obama said before outlining the players grueling schedules, that start with 6:00 am training followed by classes and practices, that doesn’t relent until 8 pm when players are free to study.
“It’s about learning to be a good football player, but more importantly, it’s about learning how to be a good leader and to be a good man,” he said. ”And that’s what these outstanding Americans are and will continue to be.”
Fourteen of the midshipman will be commissioned at the end of the school year as officers in the Navy, eight will become officers in the Marine Corp and one will become a Naval aviator officer.
The President also commented on the recent death of football player Will McKamey, the 19-year old freshman running back.
“Two busloads of classmates and teammates made the eight-hour trip to Knoxville to attend his funeral, as did Coach Ken. I understand your motto for this season is “I Will” in memory of him,” he said. “And that’s what camaraderie is all about: Honor. Courage. Commitment. That’s what makes the Midshipmen so strong. And that’s why I’m so proud to serve as your Commander-in-Chief — not only — in fact, not primarily because of what you’ve done on the football field, but because of your dedication to each other and your service to America.”