Varsity sports and Sea Cadets

Discussion in 'Coast Guard Academy - USCGA' started by BerryJam, Jan 5, 2015.

  1. BerryJam

    BerryJam Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2015
    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    17
    New poster here...but have been lurking for a long time. Appreciate the helpful information found here. We have a high school sophomore who has been interested in the USCGA for a very long time. We have many questions, but I'll just throw out a couple at a time.

    Our son is very active in the music programs at school (marching band, jazz, symphonic, drumline) and has lettered in music. These programs demand a year round commitment, leaving precious little time for anything else (i.e., sports). With all the statistics we see about varsity athletes, does a very well conditioned (would have no problem scoring high on PFT) band student have any chance at all getting into the Academy? Or must he really, really find a way to do a little XC?

    Next, he's also active in the US Naval Sea Cadet program. He participates in a variety of advanced trainings and is on the path to attain the highest rank. I haven't been able to find much info on this forum about the Sea Cadets. How is this activity scored on the application? To us, it seems very well suited to preparing a kid for military life.

    There are leadership opportunities in both of the above activities, so he is well rounded with that and good grades. We just are concerned about the lack of athletics. He's perfectly capable of doing a sport -- and would be able to do so if asked at the Academy, he just hasn't the time right now.
     
  2. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2007
    Messages:
    8,750
    Likes Received:
    1,002
    Hey BerryJam,

    I'll take a shot at this.... but understand that it's based on my personal experience and on my opinions.

    First, band stuff is cool. Now... I'm not going to say I thought the Regimental Band was cool... it was a little nerdy, but I also grew up playing the trumpet and I went to a nerdy high school, so I can appreciate nerdiness, even when I was trying to be a "cool" cadet (something I wasn't great at). I didn't play in the Regimental Band.

    Varsity sports are about more than just athletics. Yes, you hope a sprinter will be good at the shuttle run (if they still do that) and a cross country star will be good at the 1.5 mile run. Yes, you hope the good habits athletes develop from training for their sports will translate into a life-long habit of staying physically fit.

    Varsity sports is also about being on a team, trying to accomplish something as a team, and about leadership. Playing a sport is great, being a captain of that team is even better.

    But sports aren't everything. There are many ways to convey leadership qualities in an application. Maybe your son or daughter is the chairman of an advisory board for the local government. Maybe he's whatever a band captain would be called (of course, in my high school band.... we didn't have a "leader" and we hated clarinets). Maybe he's the class president. Maybe she's a super dooper Sea Cadet admiral (or whatever they would be). The nice thing about varsity athletics is you can hit two birds with one stone.... he's athletic and a leader...and he can work with a team.

    Not having any sports on the application won't help, but all is not loss. Figure out how to show your son is physically active... and a leader.

    As for the Sea Cadet question, I'm not totally sure. The Naval Sea Cadets prepare young adults for a variety of things. It will give them exposure to the sea services. It will give them a small look into the military system. We've said it here before, but while it should look good on the application, I don't recommend swabs talking about their JROTC or Sea Cadet or Sea Scout days. "I know what to expect.... I shined shoes as a cadet super dooper admiral." That won't go over great. He will certainly learn a great deal, and it won't hurt. I was one time the Coast Guard's representative on the Naval Sea Cadet program's pannel that would select the programs top national award recipients. I saw some VERY impressive nomination packages during that time.

    Good luck! Hope this helps a bit.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2015
  3. shellz

    shellz Parent

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2008
    Messages:
    910
    Likes Received:
    75
    He sounds like a great kid :)

    But, the numbers don't lie. Most kids who get appointments have done it all...sports, leadership, great grades, Eagle Scout, etc. Making time for way too many things is something cadets at USCGA are expected to do on a daily basis, so showing the ability to do so in high school can only help in the appointment game.

    There are exceptions, of course. If you are in a targeted group, or fill a special need in the building of a class, you may not need to have any athletic experience. But, why take that chance?

    Good luck.
     
  4. AlexT

    AlexT Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2013
    Messages:
    171
    Likes Received:
    65
    As long as your DS is able to score well on his PFE, not having varsity athletics should not be held against him as long as he has other strong attributes and music would certainly qualify. Plus, as LITS noted, unlike the other major academies, the CGA needs musicians to fill its regimental band (which plays at most regimental reviews) and other ensembles such as its WindJammers drum and bugle corps. Have him keep at it and be sure he lets the academy band director know of his interest if he wishes to pursue an appointment.
     
  5. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2007
    Messages:
    8,750
    Likes Received:
    1,002
    I agree and don't agree. If he does very well on his PFE, it will go far to answer the question "can this kid do anything athletically, or will his physical condition be a liability" but I do not think that a good PFE score is equal to participation in sports. Other strong attributes WILL help him, especially if they address issues sports would typically address (physical fitness, working with a team, leadership). There ARE other ways to check those boxes....

    The Coast Guard Academy is not going to say "Hey, we NEED a bagpipe player in the Regimental Band, so accept this 5'5", 300 lbs bagpipe player" so the band can have a bagpipe. While they'll appreciate members of the band, it's not going to be a HUGE selling point.... that's not where your leverage will exist.

    In fact, I'm not entirely sure if the band came up before Swab Summer, when swabs who wanted to join the band were encouraged to bring their instruments (I didn't). It was a way to get away for a bit and practice, but I don't think my cadre appreciated it (I don't remember it being an issue when I was a cadre.... so either things changed or it just wasn't on my radar).

    Applications are like anything else. If most of the population applying are impressive, just being impressive only helps so much.... in some ways you have to be MORE impressive. If there 11 applicants for 10 positions and everyone is equal in every way, except one applicant never played a sport and everyone else did.... he COULD be the oddman out, or he could find something else in his application that attempts, in some way, to off-set it.

    I played ice hockey and soccer in high school. I wasn't a captain in either sport. I offset that lack of captaincy, with other leadership positions and opportunities.
     
  6. navymomwannabe

    navymomwannabe Member

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2013
    Messages:
    859
    Likes Received:
    120
    This question gets batted around a lot at my house as well. DS is in NROTC and had all the varsity sports (2), captain of 1, eagle scout, number one in his class, band/choir, etc. and his little sister is a sophomore who wants USCGA. She is a music and theater kid. Her only "sport" is Ultimate and even I put that in quotes. :) She will continue to look for other leadership opportunities (this one organized the sandbox at 3) but I won't force her to give up her passions. We are going to visit the academy this June, and we'll make sure to discuss this. When we saw the Chorale perform last winter, the kids we talked to hadn't had varsity sports either, so it is possible. I just don't know how probable.
     
  7. BerryJam

    BerryJam Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2015
    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    17
    Thank you all for the very thoughtful and informative responses. I get what all of you are saying, and I see where we need to make sure we check those "boxes" (that was very helpful). Knowing that there are other ways to meet the requirements that athletics affords is reassuring. You helped put some of that into perspective for me.

    LITS...our band program is rigorous, structured and highly competitive, so it hurts a little bit when you refer to band as nerdy!!! Apologies for getting off topic here, but I'm sure many band moms will agree: why doesn't marching in time to highly choreographed music, with 100+ other people, while playing an instrument, and trying to be the best at the competition, qualify as working with a team? They practice 12 hours a day in the summer heat and are just as hard working and dedicated and team oriented as any athlete I know (and none of them get to sit on a bench). So I'm not trying to start an argument or be difficult, but I really would like to know how it's so different from playing a sport, as regards to work ethic!
     
  8. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2007
    Messages:
    8,750
    Likes Received:
    1,002
    I think you're on the right path. Talk about the team aspects of his band. Talk about what he does in that band... if he leads or mentors anyone.
     
  9. AlexT

    AlexT Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2013
    Messages:
    171
    Likes Received:
    65
    Navymomwannabe,

    Being good at anything takes considerable work, including band. In fact, USCGA recognizes this, especially with the Windjammers. According to the group's page on the USCGA web site "Participation in the Windjammers is considered a full-fledged Fall Sport activity that grants an Athletic credit."

    So I'll say again, don't let the lack of an athletic varsity letter discourage your son. As long as he scores high on the PFE and has lots of other activities that show a diversity of skills and interests and leadership potential, he should be competitive.
     
  10. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2007
    Messages:
    8,750
    Likes Received:
    1,002
  11. BerryJam

    BerryJam Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2015
    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    17
    Wow, AlexT, that just brought the biggest smile to my DS. Now he really wants to meet that band director. DS isn't a music major, of course, it's just one of the things he does well that contributes to his overall awesomeness. Thanks everyone for the really great words of wisdom and encouragement.
     
  12. alaska66

    alaska66 CGA Admissions Partner

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2012
    Messages:
    152
    Likes Received:
    42
    BerryJam,

    Have your son contact the band director at CGA, CWO Frenkel at ian.frenkel@uscga.edu . I'm sure he will be happy to answer any questions your son may have. My DD#1 enjoyed participating in Windjammers last year, as it gives participants a lot of travel opportunities. DD#2 will be in the class of 2019, and there are several appointees who are very active in band (several drum majors). Although DD#2 is a recruited athlete, she hopes to also participate in the regimental band, as she was a member of her high school drum line.

    I would suggest your son find some way to show his athletic side. Perhaps he should take up running and compete in 5K or 10Ks. It would be something that he could train for on his own, and may work with his schedule. Keep an open mind, and search out those athletic opportunities that could help round out his résumé. Best of luck!
     
  13. Physicsguru

    Physicsguru Member

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2011
    Messages:
    195
    Likes Received:
    74
    To the question of why team sports matter, IMO and not having to do with anything with admissions, I do have an observation. I had a student who never did athletic competitions but was physically fit. He was also very strong academically in high school. When he showed up for his college courses, he kept asking me "what do I have to do to make a B...what do I have to do to pass the test?" He was deathly afraid of failure and harped over his grade. I finally got him to concentrate on his tasks at hand, and he finished with his B.

    In sports we all hear about learning how to be a winner, and that is important. Just as important is getting that taste of failure, too. That's what teaches a person how to prepare, how there is no minimum in preparation, no substitute for hard work. All you can do is make a plan, do each step of practice the best you can, and lay it out when it's time to perform.

    I was a chorus singer, and had competitions as well. But they were nothing like running in the mile and having to beat that one guy just one step further down the line. I don't think admissions is looking at performing arts vs. sports and which is better, because they are looking for the whole person and what that student can bring to the class. I just think that competitive sports give, in a relatively low risk environment, lessons that pay off when it's time to do a real world job like SAR.
     
  14. CharlesCSmith15

    CharlesCSmith15 New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2015
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    I'm going to piggy back on this thread a little.. I'm a very competitive musician, ranked first in my state the last two years, won several competitions/auditions, being recruited by lots of schools.. but no sports. Will I have a chance on my application (Class of 2020 ) to show how music has helped me learn how to win, and more importantly, how to fail, and taught me a lot of the lessons that athletics teaches the 'normal' applicant?
     
  15. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2007
    Messages:
    8,750
    Likes Received:
    1,002
    It's the exact same answer. It won't help, but see how you can articulate how you have benefited from those experiences.
     

Share This Page