Cadets compete in Brigade Finals
Story and photos by Mike Strasser
WEST POINT, N.Y. (Nov. 22, 2013) — Company athletics earned its time in the spotlight Nov. 12-14 during the Brigade Finals.
It was company versus company in six sports—basketball, soccer, wrestling, flag football, ultimate frisbee and team handball—all competing to earn the title of brigade champions.
Four of these winning teams will contend for additional bragging rights against the U.S. Naval Academy in basketball, flag football, ultimate frisbee and soccer Nov. 23.
Company C-1 defeated the Co. I-3 team in flag football 20-6 on Daly Field Nov. 12. Along with the trophy, the winning team members all received USCC diamond patches that can be worn on their black jackets, much like the ones worn by cadet athletes on Corps Squad and DCA Club teams. U.S. Corps of Cadets Commandant Brig. Gen. Richard Clarke presented these to the Icemen with his congratulations.
“That was a well-fought game, and truthfully, it was great for me to be out here and enjoy the rivalry played on this field of friendly strife,” Clarke said. “It started with 36 teams and only two could get on this field today. It is a tough, tough thing to be here.”
Class of 2014 Cadet Preston Wilson, C-1 coach, thanked the fans for attending what was the coldest contest of the semester right before announcing the game’s MVP would go to the entire team.
“We’ve been working hard together all season,” Wilson said. “It’s just a good group of people here and everybody supports each other.”
Class of 2015 Cadet Rob Bickel described the win as a semester-long group effort.
“We come out to play as a team every time and have a great time doing it,” he said.
Bickel anticipates a few practices in preparation for Navy but not much in terms of new strategy.
The company athletics program ended its fall season with the Brigade Finals. Company E-4 earned the championship trophy in wrestling.
The fans came out to support their companies during the Brigade Finals, and as much as the company athletics program allows more than 2,400 cadets to compete in the fields of friendly strife, the cadet-driven program depends on the Corps to provide coaches, referees and support staff for each sporting event.
Class of 2014 Cadet Kevin Rose carries the ball for Company C-1 en route to a 20-6 win over Co. I-3 for the flag football championship.
“We’re just going to work hard and do the same thing we’ve been doing since September,” Bickel said.
Class of 2014 Cadet Kevin Rose said the reason the team posted an 11-0 season was consistent teamwork.
“When we entered the playoffs we tried to change something that didn’t quite work out. So we decided to keep playing with what worked best for us before,” Rose said. “We’re all good friends on the field and off so that contributes to the dynamic of the team.”
Surrounding on all sides by a cheering audience inside Arvin Gymnasium, the Co. H-4 team came away victorious in the wrestling finals. In soccer, the Co. G-1 team bested Co. C-4, 1-0, on Daly Field and it was Co. F-2 overcoming the Co. D-3 team in ultimate frisbee by a score of 14-7.
The final event on Nov. 14 was team handball with Co. G-4 defeating Co. F-2, 14-7. The cheering section was primed for that match-up after watching Co. E-1 beat Co. H-4 in basketball, 52-40.
Class of 2014 Cadet Steven Santon, Co. E-1 team captain, said they worked all season on full-court defense which proved effective in the win.
“That’s what I was looking for,” Santon said. “They all bought into the system and executed.”
It also helped having half the team return from last year to build a second undefeated season.
“This year we were able to finish the job and win,” Santon, who has played all four seasons, said. “Getting to play against Navy is cool but our goal was winning the brigade final.”
Next semester Santon said he’ll probably play Flickerball with at least half of his team.
Other options in the spring are orienteering, floor hockey, swimming and submission grappling.
The company athletics program is an intra-collegiate sports program that provides a competitive sports experience for more than 2,400 cadets.
Class of 2014 Cadet Jack Christoffersen, the brigade athletics officer, oversees the program, but credits the cadets in charge at the regiment, battalion and company level, and those responsible for each sport.
“There’s a lot of people who work to make it a success,” he said. “A majority of cadets in the Corps participate in company athletics, so in that sense, it is a vital program. Watching these games during the brigade finals proves how competitive cadets are, and that there are athletes here on every level.”