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.
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.
They wouldn’t let us watch the (9/11) footage at my grammar school because half of our parents worked in Manhattan. My father actually worked in downtown Manhattan at the time. They didn’t want us to put on the TV and have, you know, this girl who sits next to me whose father works on the 50th floor of the Trade Center, and she has to watch that thing? So I didn’t know until I got home. It’s just tough being from Staten Island on that day. It literally shattered the community.
Obviously everything shut down for the day. The teachers were more interested in finding out. And kids slowly and slowly started being pulled out of class. Me and my brother and sister were some of the last few there. We didn’t really know what was going on until my mom picked us up and she was shaking. Where my grammar school was, you can look out and you’d have a decent view of Eastern New Jersey, a little bit of the Hudson, so you started seeing some smoke.
Luckily, I was fortunate enough to not have any immediate family (die on 9/11). It’s the five or six people from your parish, some of the kids, their fathers, literally somebody everywhere. And it’s still very personal to this day. I had an opportunity to go down and see one of the memorials, and there was a widow there. My mom had to step away for a couple minutes because this lady was just crying her eyes out. They started feeling the same things and had to step away for a couple minutes.
(Carrying the flag against Georgia Southern) made me step back for a minute because we put so much effort into a sport, a game, and it’s trivial compared to those 3,000 lives. It really just becomes a game at that point. It took me a couple minutes through the first quarter to refocus and actually play. It shocks you back into perspective. If you go look at the pictures of it, because of what that flag meant to so many people, I took my gloves off and I was wiping off my hands. If you look at the pictures, I look really goofy because I have my gloves around my waist belt. With what that meant to a lot of people, I was going to make sure that I did not disrespect that in any way. I was gripping that the hardest I’ve ever held anything in my life.
You really can’t compare something to that (moment). But if I had to, getting the opportunity to play in the new Jets and Giants stadium in New Jersey in front of a lot of people who I grew up with and a lot of the same – like, my basketball coaches were all firemen who lost a lot of friends. Just to have them come to a game, just enjoy it for a day, that was awesome. But that still is a distant second.
We try really hard here, especially on the football team, to preach a brotherhood. We take pride in what we do and we treat each other like family. And the fact that a lot of your family members are going into harm’s way – like we have graduates here who help out with the team who graduated five years ago who have been to Iraq and Afghanistan. We’re still preparing at the Naval Academy, as patriotic as we are. But we’re not the ones fighting the good fight right now. We’re preparing to lead our nation’s sailors and Marines. So we really take pride in the brothers and sisters who came before us and the great work that they do and all the hardship and sacrifice they’ve made to defend our country. There’s an athletic standard, which here is definitely not the most important standard.