From the eyes of a West Point mom…little did I know what was ahead when my son was accepted and signed a letter of commitment with the United States Military Academy – West Point. It was early in his senior year when he made the decision and was accepted. I had always been told that Joey was an exceptional baseball player. I was his mom so of course I was proud but I certainly was far from an expert in baseball. All I knew was that he loved the game and that’s all he ever wanted to do…play Major League Baseball. And from the time he could swing a bat, he played baseball and played it well.
He is my oldest child, with a crew coming up behind him, who practically grew up at the ballfield playing in the dirt with the other younger siblings as their brothers played baseball. The years went on and before I knew it he was talking about where he wanted to play ball in college. He was on many scouts’ radar. But never had we even discussed the possibility of a military academy. Until one day I received a call from his high school coach asking me if we would even consider talking with USMA-West Point. I responded by saying of course, we would consider all options.
To make a long story short, we met the baseball coach from West Point and there was great interest on his part. He encouraged Joey to consider USMA West Point. He made it clear that USMA West Point looks for well-rounded leadership characteristics that will in turn make the strongest leaders. What a compliment to even be considered.
He applied, and it was quite the extensive process. Even though he was being considered to play baseball, he still had to meet all academic requirements and receive a Congressional nomination before being accepted. At that time, he had to look at the future with the realization that he was always just one injury away from being done with baseball. His thoughts had to be farther down the road. And when the time comes that he is done with baseball, what then? What education will he prefer to have, what will be in his best interest? How will he be best prepared to accomplish what God has created him to do and be?
The decision was clear, apples and oranges, not even a comparison in our book. What a privilege and honor to be accepted into the USMA – West Point. The Academy provides a superb four-year education, which focuses on the leader development of cadets in the academic, military, and physical domains, all underwritten by adherence to a code of honor.
So off to West Point we went to drop him off for “BEAST” – USMA West Point boot camp. All of a sudden, the parents, friends and family are given just minute or two, literally, to say their good-byes and out the door walked our children, young men and women with the initial goal of becoming Cadets at USMA West Point, looking forward to the day that they would be commissioned as an officer on the US Army!
The United States Military Academy's mission is to educate, train and inspire the Corps of Cadets so that each graduate is a commissioned leader of character committed to the values of Duty, Honor, Country and prepared for a career of professional excellence and service to the nation as an officer in the United States Army.
After a rigorous four years of balancing the challenge of military training, academics and baseball, that time finally came. Graduation Day! What a celebration! As a mom, I reflected of the challenges and obstacles Joey had faced, the endurance, discipline and dedication he had demonstrated and the fine young man he had become. I am so thankful that he was given the opportunity to be part of the West Point Long Gray Line.
After graduation, the challenge and the commitment continued at a whole new level. Joey is now an Airborne Ranger and Captain in the US Army. He has proudly served his country well. Alongside many others with the same commitment, some of whom paid the ultimate price, he has fought for and defended our freedom on the ground in the Middle East. And from this mom’s perspective, I am forever grateful for their sacrifice, their dedication to protect and defend, and for their love for the people of the United States of America.
This year we are again a proud community in Toccoa-Stephens County as we have two more of our very own who have been accepted into USMA West Point from Stephens County High School. A.J. Howard and Nikhil Patel will be reporting to The Academy in just a few short months. They will be joining another former SCHS Indian, Abigail Vickery, also from Toccoa, who began her military career at West Point in 2015.
To all who have served and to those who currently serve in our U.S. Military, thank you for your commitment to protect and defend the freedoms that we so enjoy in this great Country. May God continue to bless the United States of America!