A new academic year is underway and with that, our Corps of Cadets return to the “fields of friendly strife” for another exciting season of athletics.
Our fall season is already off to a great start. Our men’s and women’s soccer teams, our triathlon team, and women’s volleyball team are already enjoying some great successes on the field and court. Tomorrow night, we kick off our football season at home against Fordham. I know we’re all looking forward to a great winning season, and especially looking forward to beating Navy.
I’ve spoken quite a bit lately about building a winning culture here at West Point. It is one of my priorities because, as GEN Dempsey so eloquently told me, “when our cadets graduate, they will be laying it on the line and they deserve better than mediocrity”. But this is not winning at all cost. It is winning in accordance with our values and who we are as an institution and a nation.
Athletics are such an important part of our development as leaders. They instill tenacity, resilience, discipline, mental and physical toughness, and the desire to excel and push ourselves to goals and objectives we previously did not think were possible. That same grit and “can do” attitude and the ability to overcome adversity are the same traits that build winning platoon leaders and company commanders when our cadets graduate.
It is also what America expects of us as an Army, because when our Nation decides to put boots on the ground, they do not expect us to go out there and “look good” or just “do our best,” they expect us to accomplish the mission and win.
Again, that doesn’t mean winning at all costs. Rather, it means winning in accordance with our values and who we are as a Nation. When we beat Navy in December (and we WILL beat Navy in December), we will do so honorably, remaining true to the values and standards that define us.
To all of our athletic teams, here’s to a successful winning season. To our cadets and each of us individually, what is that next goal or objective that we have set for ourselves that we need to achieve? And to the West Point Community at large, I would ask you to think about what it means to produce a culture of winning and excellence, and aspire to that winning spirit that allows us to achieve excellence, both individually and as a team.
I look forward to seeing you all out there cheering on our teams and celebrating winning.
Beat Fordham! Beat Navy!
Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen, Jr.