This afternoon, President Obama presented the Commander-in-Chief’s trophy to the U.S. Naval Academy football team for their seventh consecutive win. The President joked that after consulting White House counsel, the team was “only allowed to come back here one more time before it’s somebody else’s turn.” He congratulated them for seven straight wins against Air Force and eight against the Army, calling it an impressive win for “one of the biggest rivalries in sports, period.”
The President congratulated quarterback Ricky Dobbs for setting the NCAA rushing touchdown record at 27, and joked that Ricky’s announcement for presidency in 2040 was a bit much. “But it does mean that when Navy comes back for the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy 30 years from now, you might hear a speech from this guy,” the President told the team. He also praised co-captain Ross Pospil for organizing a toy drive last year during a snow storm, thanking the team for their compassion and generosity.
In the end, it’s the willingness to put others above yourselves that sets this team -– and all the service academies -– apart. Your days are packed with morning inspections and a full load of classes, football practice, and military duties. And oftentimes, you’re lucky if you can get a few minutes to yourselves before studying into the night.
But you do it because each of you has a higher calling -- to serve your country in a time of war. As Ross says, “We are always going to be remembered for what we have done on the football field. That’s all well and good. But we want to make a difference outside Bancroft Hall, and outside the Academy walls.” And that I think is the kind of ethic that makes us all so proud.
In a few short weeks, 32 of you will have that chance when you become officers in the United States Navy and Marine Corps. Last year, I was honored to attend the Academy commencement and see firsthand the incredible spirit that drives every Midshipman at Annapolis -- in addition to getting two chest bumps.