Scott Strasemeier: Navy’s associate athletics director for sports information is currently in his 21st year at the Academy. Read more
Brian Stann: A former Navy linebacker, Stann graduated in 2003 and went on to serve two tours in combat overseas. He received the Silver Star for his leadership in battle in Iraq. Read more
John Dowd: The senior offensive guard for Navy is a native of Staten Island, N.Y., and was 11 years old on 9/11. On Sept. 11, 2010, Dowd ran onto the field for a game against Georgia Southern carrying an American flag that had previously been flown over special-operations bases in Afghanistan, raised at the World Trade Center site, and will be returned to Ground Zero for the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Read more
Ben Bertelson: The junior baseball student-athlete and management major at Air Force was in his fifth grade classroom in Midland, Texas, when the events of 9/11 occurred. Read more
Andy Berg: The current assistant men’s ice hockey coach at Air Force was a junior at the Academy during 9/11. Read more
Randee Farrell: Farrell was the senior captain of the Army women’s soccer team in 2001. She currently is a marketing officer for the university and the officer representative for the women’s soccer team. Read more
James Flowers: Flowers was coach of the Army softball team when the events of 9/11 occurred. He retired from the athletics department in 2009 and witnessed his recruits take on a greater sense of purpose and a greater pride wearing the West Point uniform. Read more
Charles Wynne: The current director of image management and strategy at the NCAA national office worked for the public relations staff for the U.S. Air Force. Wynne was at the Pentagon on 9/11. Read more
William Walker: The vice director of athletics at Air Force is also a 1983 graduate of the Academy. Read more
Brian Lorusso: Senior Cadet Brian LoRusso grew up on Long Island and was barely a teenager on Sept. 11, 2001. He is the captain of the Army lacrosse team that also includes his younger brother, Larry. His two older brothers, Nick and Kevin, also played on the team. The international and comparative legal studies major will graduate a second lieutenant and, depending on where he is stationed, could see combat. Nick and Kevin have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, respectively. Read more
As the nation prepares to acknowledge the 10th anniversary of 9/11 this Sunday, NCAA.org asked select student-athletes and staff from some of the Association’s service academies about how the tragic events of 2001 affected their lives.
Student-athletes either from the graduating class of 2002 or 2003 talk about the immediate impact of 9/11, and current student-athletes who will be graduating now after the death of Osama bin Laden reflect on 10 years of post-9/11 life. Also, staff who were at their schools 10 years ago offer their perspective on both then and now.
A former Navy linebacker, Stann graduated in 2003 and went on to serve two tours in combat overseas. He received the Silver Star for his leadership in battle in Iraq. Currently an elite fighter in the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
I was at the Naval Academy, and I’d just finished class and was walking into the barber shop when everybody got pulled back into the company area. And that’s when I saw the first glimpse of it on TV, seeing the planes crash into the buildings. Everybody was obviously devastated, angry, emotional. There were a lot of staff there and people there who knew people in the Pentagon. That day was a huge paradigm shift in our lives. We went from, “Hey, we’re there! We’re going to graduate and be leaders in the military and maybe travel the world a little bit,” to, “Hey, we’re going to graduate and we’re going off to war somewhere.” It was very different.
It put a lot of things in perspective in your life and reshaped your priorities. It just changed a lot. All the different expectations you levied on yourself were different now because you expected and fully anticipated going off to war. It was tough. The Naval Academy was never the same after it.
It symbolizes a completely different direction in my life. It’s changed a lot of things. You go from being someone who’s “normal” to someone who’s been in combat and has lost a lot of friends and people they really care about. And that’s been the biggest difference. You don’t envision those things when you go into the Naval Academy. Before 9/11, you don’t envision going into the Naval Academy and going to war. It just wasn’t one of those things because the country hadn’t been at war in so long. But it’s completely different once that happens. As I reflect on it, those are the thoughts that go through my mind. Watching friends leave for war, waiting for my turn, coming back and then obviously having to deal with the phone calls you get when you have lost a friend, a Marine you’ve served with.
Because of my busy schedule I don’t get to go back (to the Naval Academy) often. But I went back a little more than two years ago for the Army-Navy game and spoke to the guys. I talked a little bit about who they are, what they’re going to be, and both teams are professional warriors and talked a little bit about my fighting and what I do, and just some things to get them pumped up. But mostly that it’s different. They’re different men. They have a different purpose. And they have to always maintain that discipline and execute correctly, because where they’re going later in life, their execution, their discipline, their leadership isn’t going to be about points on a scoreboard. It’s going to be about lives.
(Serving in the Navy has) meant a great deal, and it truly defines who you are as a person. Not so much that I was a Navy football player, or that I was a Marine or a Naval Academy graduate. It all gets summed up in the service. And it means something, and I continue to serve today whether it be in philanthropy rather than on active duty. I think that’s what defines you and your purpose, as a person.