WASHINGTON – The U.S. Naval Academy football team visited the White House April 18 to receive the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy from President Barack Obama.
The annual trophy goes to the team that wins the most games in head-to-head football competition among the Naval Academy, the U.S. Military Academy and the U.S. Air Force Academy.
The president noted that the Naval Academy team has some experience in this regard -- it’s the ninth time Navy has won the trophy in the last 11 years.
“This is the second time these seniors have come here to claim the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy. If you guys have your punch cards with you, the next one is free,” the president joked.
The team had a good season, Obama noted, but he added that “the fact that for these outstanding young men, football isn’t even the main thing” is more impressive.
“When you sign up to play at Annapolis, you know you’re in for a different experience,” the president said. “A typical day starts at 6 a.m. in the training room. Breakfast is at 7 a.m. After that, it’s class, lunch and football meetings. Then more class, football practice, dinner. Free time starts at 8 p.m., which most players use to study until midnight. And when students at other colleges are enjoying summer vacation, these guys are busy with military training and summer school and offseason workouts.
“So, yes, it's about learning to be a good football player,” he continued, “but more importantly, it’s about learning how to be a good leader and to be a good man. And that’s what these outstanding Americans are and will continue to be.”
Obama noted that 14 of midshipmen on the football team will be commissioned as ensigns in the Navy next month, and eight others will become second lieutenants in the Marine Corps.
“That’s their commitment to service,” he said. “That's the commitment to country and to each other that sets this team apart.”