Mountaineering and Scuba Diving in place of Varsity Sports in an Application?

Discussion in 'Naval Academy - USNA' started by ktm, Sep 10, 2013.

  1. ktm

    ktm New Member

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    Hello!

    Over the last month I've been reading and compiling a list of things I need to take to be able to attempt to get into the USNA. Through my reading I've come to a few questions that I imagine a number of you here could help with.

    First off, some background. Currently I'm 16 and throughout my life I've either been homeschooled or inside of a alternative program that doesn't offer sports. While I did swim on a swim team in middle school and play a number of sports as a kid, when it came to my highschool career starting I ended up completely unable to participate in a highschool sport. Because of this I never had the chance to play on or join a varsity team. I feel worried because a large majority of applicants will have varsity sports on their application.

    What I have done though is achieve 270+ dives (all logged, with about 70 inside cold Washington water), earn my master scuba diver certification from PADI, Pass a number of PADI diving courses (Underwater navigation, Dry Suit Diving and search and rescue), Climb multiple mountains across Washington state (Glacier Peak, Mount Adams) and I'm currently prepping for a June attempt at Mount Rainier with my venture crew. I'm also within a month or two of getting my Eagle rank in boy scouts.

    so, my major questions are these:

    • Could my long dedication to scuba diving and mountaineering help supplement my lack of varsity sports?
    • Considering I'm "homeschooled", would that affect how they view these activities? I understand that they take people in my sort of situation in a case by case basis but I'm not quite sure exactly what that means.
    • While I know that scuba diving (I'm not sure about mountaineering) is usually considered an Extra-Curricular activity, how would I go about presenting it as my sport? I have dove with the same people for 6 years now.

    Any input at all will be greatly appreciated!
     
  2. 1964BGO

    1964BGO Member

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    I would recommend you do your best to document your scuba and mountaineering accomplishments and get letters of recommendation or commendation from the persons who were the leaders on several of your more significant dives or climbs. Have them available to present to your BGO when you are interviewed, and available to submit to your nominating sources and include in your candidate packet. I would limit to one letter each for scuba and mountaineering. Anticipate you will have to go an exta mile due to this non-standard situation. If you can affiliate with a local school's sports team or a club sport team in the area you may be able to strengthen your situation. Documentation of what you have accomplished is going to a major factor. Best wishes to you.
     
  3. ktm

    ktm New Member

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    Hey there, thanks for the reply.

    I've already been documenting my scuba diving since the age of 10 (I even have an article published in the local paper about my rare achievement of getting becoming one of the few people who have gotten their master scuba certification at the youngest possible moment) and have plenty of photos and evidence of my commitment. Plus I also have my dive book with a description of each dive that includes the time in time out, conditions, timeline of the dive, max depth and location. I also have been diving with the same instructor since the age of 10. I've been his diving buddy on a number of the dives, and he was also the one who certified me on my master and rescue diver certifications. I plan to get a letter of recommendation from him. Would that suffice?

    As for mountaineering I'm not sure how best to document that. Videos, pictures and a letter of recommendation from the venture patrol leader work? He is a former army ranger and he also leads the mountaineering excursions. Will that be helpful/enough?

    And finally, choices for teams/clubs are limited in my rather small town. I do have a number of choices in martial arts though. Would that function well enough as a sport? Or would a relaxed/casual cycling club be good enough?
     
  4. 1964BGO

    1964BGO Member

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    I will leave the details up to your BGO as he/she will be writing the interview report. The burden of proving your mettle will be upon you, and my past experience with similar non- standard athletic involvements is that they can be tough sells. As before, best wishes.
     
  5. usna1985

    usna1985 USNA Alumnus

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    To add to '64's comments, it is critical you do well in your CFA. For candidates who are not involved in varsity/traditional sports, USNA puts greater emphasis on the CFA. The three key events are crunches, pushups and mile run, although you want to do well in each event.

    USNA also likes to see team sports in homeschooled students. You say you're 16, so I'm assuming you're a junior and thus have time to add to your activity base. I STRONGLY urge you to find some team sports you can do, even if they're not varsity. A sport that requires running is better.

    Some options: local police leagues, community leagues, Catholic leagues (regardless of your religion). If you can't do it during the school year, do it during the summer. It need not be varsity; you're trying to show you can participate in a team rather than individual sports. There are plenty of opportunities; you simply need to make it a priority to take advantage of them.

    Martial arts won't help you. Seriously. It's not a team activity and doesn't involve running, etc. It is also perceived as somewhat of a "loner" sport (I'm not saying this is my view) which won't be helpful to homeschooled students or students from small schools. Doing only "solo" activities when added to homeschooling leaves USNA to wonder how you will function in a very team-oriented, highly physical/active environment. The more you can do to dispel such concerns, the better off you'll be.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2013
  6. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    +1 to usna1985. You really want to emphasize the team aspects of a sport. Besides your athletic fitness that is the other sports attribute they are looking for. After all, you'll be part of a team in the military and the team is only as strong as its weakest link. You need to know how to be a team member as well as a team leader. Good luck. I actually think the "sports" you do are rather impressive as they both involve risk and unique skills, so if you can round it out with some team participation I think you'll be in fair shape.
     
  7. ktm

    ktm New Member

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    Thanks to all of you for the input. I have a lot more things I need to tackle to prove my mettle, but I'm very excited to try. I guess I'd better find a track team.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2013
  8. d22

    d22 Member

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    My sons were PADI certified when they were 10 &12. You definitely have taken your diving to a high level at such a young age, congratulations.

    Another resource you may want to utilize is the Naval Academy Admissions Facebook page. You're able to ask questions directly to an admissions officer, and they typically will respond within 24 hrs.
     
  9. ktm

    ktm New Member

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    Thanks! I've loved diving since I got my initial cert at 10. It's wonderful to be able to see the world underneath the waves. Are the admissions officers who run the facebook page BGOs or are they the actual admissions staff?

    This question is to everyone. Would coaching a team or an individual help supplement my lack of varsity sports in the application? I recently was offered to help mentor/coach a child who is aiming to bowl in the junior special olympics.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2013
  10. usna1985

    usna1985 USNA Alumnus

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    The FB folks are Admissions personnel, not BGOs.

    Teaching/mentoring would fall under leadership, not athletics.
     
  11. futuremarinemom

    futuremarinemom Member

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    My DS, now a plebe, was home schooled his whole life and did not play any varsity sports. He was PADI certified, belonged to a local (adult) cycling club, shot skeet, ran 5k's and half marathons (wanted to do a marathon, but the minimum age was 18), did martial arts, etc. He was an Eagle Scout and had organized service projects for Star and Life ranks before his Eagle project. He was heavily involved in Sea Cadets, with lots of advanced training and LPO of a large division (100+) as well as LPO of 2 national recruit trainings. These were real leadership positions - not just titles. (DS always wanted to be in the military, and he chose activities that he felt would be useful to him in his future.)

    Your resume sounds impressive. Coaching a disabled child for Special Olympics would be great! Anything that shows that you know how to work with others is to your advantage. Obviously, you're not diving and mountain climbing all alone. But unfortunately, some people have the mistaken notion that homeschoolers are a bunch of socially inept loners. As you and I know, this is far from the truth! And I would hope by now the admissions personnel realize this.

    Work on nailing the CFA to prove you are physically fit. Use your essays to your advantage, showing the readers how your experiences have prepared you for life at the academy and beyond. Most of your credentials will not fit in the "slots" on the application. There is a section at the end for remarks -- this is where you will tell them how awesome you are by listing all the things you have done. And be sure to get letters of recommendation from your coaches/leaders. Unlike most candidates who only need recommendations from their math and English teachers, as a homeschooler, you should definitely get outside validation.

    Don't be discouraged. You can do it! Good luck!
     

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