New London, Conn. – For the first time in the 29 year program history, the Coast Guard Academy Men’s Lacrosse Team will be making an appearance in the MCLA National Tournament. The No. 9 seeded Bears head to Greenville S.C. for a first-round match-up against No. 8 Sam Houston State University on Monday at 1:30 P.M.
For those of you not familiar, the United States Coast Guard Academy, founded in 1876, is the smallest of the five federal Service Academies with about 900 cadets. The Coast Guard Academy graduates young men and women to serve as Commissioned Officers in the U.S. Coast Guard. Founded by Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton as the Revenue Cutter Service in 1790, the Coast Guard lays claim to being the United States’ oldest continuous seagoing service. While the Coast Guard is notable as the oldest life-saving service in the world, its roles include more than just Maritime Safety and Security. The Coast Guard is also called upon for critical service in protection of natural resources, maritime mobility (management of maritime traffic, commerce and navigation) and national defense.
Situated on a beautiful campus on the Thames River in New London, Connecticut, the Coast Guard Academy provides a four-year Bachelor of Science degree program with a full scholarship for each individual. Each year, approximately 200 Ensigns are commissioned during graduation exercises in May.
In just a few short weeks, the 1/c cadets (seniors) on the Coast Guard Academy Men’s Lacrosse Team will report for duty aboard cutters, at Naval Flight Training in Pensacola, FL and at Sector offices in ports nationwide. Graduates of the academy are obligated to serve five years in the Coast Guard, though many choose to stay and make a rewarding, life-long career of their maritime military service. This year’s graduating 1/c cadets and their initial assignments include:
1/c Andrew Bogdan Naval Flight Training Pensacola, FL
1/c Conor Breckenridge USCGC BERTHOLF Alameda, CA
1/c Michael Cooper USCGC MACKINAW Cheboygan, MI
1/c Steven Danseglio (C) USCGC HARRIET LANE Portsmouth, VA
1/c Justin Dougherty Naval Flight Training Pensacola, FL
1/c Austin English (C) Naval Flight Training Pensacola, FL
1/c James Fennessey USCGC CYPRESS Pensacola, FL
1/c Benjamin Hinchman USCGC VIGILANT Port Canaveral, FL
1/c James Lord USCGC CAMPBELL Portsmouth, NH
1/c Graham Pitcairn Naval Flight Training Pensacola, FL
1/c Andrew Ray USCGC GALLATIN Charleston, SC
1/c Steele Johnson USCGC ELM Atlantic Beach, NC
1/c Timothy Wyderko (C) USCGC DEPENDABLE Cape May, NJ
USCGC = United State Coast Guard Cutter
After the season ends, the typical college lacrosse players spend summer vacation at home, utilizing free time to lounge by the pool or at the beach, earning some much-needed cash at an internship or full-time job and playing lacrosse in the local summer league. For Coast Guard Academy lacrosse players the summer training period always proves to be anything but typical. As soon as the season is over – the rest of the underclass cadets will head out for their summer training program where cadets learn about leadership through immersion in the ultimate setting – the operational Coast Guard. They learn about the roles of officers and the enlisted as they see the United States and the world as members of a Coast Guard crew. Cadets in summer training find themselves in thrilling experiences that include: sailing aboard the tall ship Eagle to various ports of call, flying in Coast Guard aircraft as a part of the Cadet Aviation Training Program and participating in Internships for Engineering, Government, Science or Operations at centers of excellence through the country.
Coast Guard, who finished as the regular season Pioneer Collegiate Lacrosse League (PCLL) Champions with an 11-1 record, earned an at-large bid and a No. 9 seed after losing in the Pioneer Collegiate Lacrosse League (PCLL) Tournament finals. Sam Houston State University, who sits at 15-2 this year, also earned an at-large bid despite claiming the Lone Star Alliance (LSA) championship – due to the LSA losing their automatic qualifier bid this year.
The winner of Wednesday’s match-up will advance to face the survivor of the University of St. Thomas – Depaul bout. The second round is scheduled for Tuesday.
Coast Guard and Sam Houston State University have never faced each other, but have one common opponent this season. Both squads faced SCAD – Savannah College of Art and Design this year with Coast Guard posting a 14-10 victory in that contest, while Sam Houston State won 12-5.
Interestingly, the Coast Guard Academy Men’s Lacrosse team is wearing orange away uniforms (Coast Guard MH-65Cs helicopters have an orange paint scheme) this year to honor Captain Nelson and the 6505 crew that included Lieutenant Commander Andrew Wischmeier, AST1 David Skimin and AMT2 Joshua Nichols. In September 2008, Coast Guard lacrosse player Captain Thomas D. Nelson, Class of 1988, was added as the 61st name on WALL OF REMEMBRANCE (which honors Academy graduates who have perished while carrying out operational missions) after he perished aboard Coast Guard MH-65C helicopter 6505 off the coast of Hawaii. “So Others May Live” is inscribed on the inside of the collar and is the official motto of Coast Guard Rescue Swimmers. The Team Captains decided that this motto epitomized the Coast Guard’s mission of selfless service. The Coast Guard core values – HONOR, RESPECT and DEVOTION TO DUTY – appear on the inner waistband of the shorts. The core values are more than just Coast Guard rules of behavior. They are deeply rooted in the heritage that has made our organization great. Because Cadets represent the Coast Guard to the public, they must embrace these values on the field, in their professional undertakings as well as in their personal lives.