What began in 1944 as a simple idea between Navy assistant director of athletics Rip Miller and his old friend H. McCoy “Piggy” Jones of the Class of 1919 to expand the pool of academically qualified Naval Academy applicants has grown into a multi-million-dollar-per-year philanthropic enterprise and source of educational opportunity for some 50 promising students annually: the Naval Academy Foundation’s Athletic and Scholarship Programs division (A&SP).

A&SP, the original Naval Academy Foundation, marked its 75th anniversary on 22 November with a Dahlgren Hall gala that attracted more than 400 guests, including many of its 250 trustees (who make annual contributions of a certain level, depending on their age and tenure), Naval Academy and Naval Academy Alumni Association and Foundation leadership, representatives of its 16 partner prep schools and many of the current midshipmen who have benefited from its programs in recent years. Among the standout guests: 98-year-old, California- based Bob Williams ’45, A&SP’s oldest trustee and among its most loyal, who rarely misses a meeting.

“I have been a Foundation Trustee for 51 years, flying almost 300,000 miles to attend Trustee meetings, an expression of my interest and commitment,” said Williams. “I take pride in the success of the Foundation’s Prep School Program for approximately 50 students each year who receive an extra year of academics—their success both at the Academy and in the Fleet. And also, since 2003, the impact of the Foundation’s extraordinary support of the USNA’s Athletic Program, led by the outstanding leadership of Foundation Chair Admiral Lynch and Athletic Director Chet Gladchuk.”

Today, A&SP has two core missions: to create opportunities for talented students—many of whom are not recruited athletes—to receive an additional year of preparation for the Academy at one of a network of prestigious prep schools; and to raise resources for the Fund for Athletic Excellence, which provides versatile operating dollars for all of the Academy’s varsity, club and intramural sports, as well as athletic programs at the Naval Academy Preparatory School. The A&SP trustees have played a significant role in the more than $87 million that has been raised for Navy athletics since the beginning of Called to Serve, Daring to Lead: The Naval Academy Campaign, in 2012.

“There are 35 million Americans ages 17 to 24 today, and only 23 percent of those qualify to be part of the United States military,” said Rear Admiral Thomas C. Lynch ’64, USN (Ret.), former Naval Academy Superintendent and chairman of A&SP, at the event. “Of those, it’s imperative that we get the best and brightest here at the Academy. The Academy will then develop them as leaders for the fleet, the Marine Corps, on the front lines, in all types of environments, protecting us and the freedoms and values we cherish in this country. A&SP exists for student-athletes who are going to compete on the sporting fields as necessary, but they’re going be quality people and have quality coaches with quality instruction to become the future leaders of our country.”

While A&SP still puts a tremendous amount of emphasis on building and maintaining relationships with premier prep schools and in matching midshipman candidates with the right prep school opportunity for them, the scholarships that make those opportunities possible are now fully endowed, allowing A&SP to focus its ongoing fundraising efforts wholly on athletic excellence. In 2000, the original Naval Academy Foundation established by Miller and Jones amalgamated with the Naval Academy Endowment Trust to become a single entity authorized to raise and manage all non-appropriated funds in support of the Naval Academy and the Brigade of Midshipmen. Admiral James L. Holloway III ’43, USN (Ret.), then chairman of the original Foundation, carried on as first chairman of the combined organization, spearheading the creation of what has become a powerful engine of philanthropy that has raised more than $800 million for the Academy since 2000. Many of the evening’s speakers took a moment to express gratitude and concern for Holloway, who was quite ill the night of the event and died just days later at age 97.

“Athletic excellence is among our leading priorities and has achieved great successes, especially over the last generation,” said Daniel F. Akerson ’70, chairman of today’s Naval Academy Foundation and an A&SP Trustee, at the anniversary event. “Of the more than $87 million raised for athletics in this current campaign, about $24 million of that has been focused on the Fund for Athletic Excellence, which provides annual operating support for all of Navy’s varsity, club and intramural sports, augmenting resources for coaches’ salaries, locker room upgrades, coaches’ awards, supplemental nutrition, technology upgrades and a myriad of other demands that are put upon our athletic program.

“It’s not surprising to me that our alumni community is willing to make this kind of investment in Navy athletics at all levels. Athletics is part of the Naval Academy’s moral, mental and physical charter, our mission. It’s an integral aspect of midshipman education, and in a very different way than any civilian college or university. Athletics matter at Navy because lessons learned on the court or the field are so relevant to what midshipmen will do in the fleet. It’s not the wins and losses that matter—although we do like those wins. It’s what midshipmen pick up along the way: teamwork, shared goals, focus on the collective (not the individual), physical prowess and willingness to sacrifice and endure pain. All of these help today’s midshipman student-athletes become better officers in the Navy and Marine Corps. Personally, I’m very proud to be a part of that … as all A&SP Trustees are.”

The impact of A&SP on Navy athletics beyond the dollars and cents is difficult to quantify, but Athletic Director Chet Gladchuk gave it a shot in his remarks.

“We did some calculations, and the 75-year impact [A&SP] has made is extraordinary. Thousands of midshipmen, 31 Superintendents, 14 athletic directors, 275 head coaches … all had resources to provide them with a margin of excellence,” said Gladchuk to the gathered Trustees. “My gratitude, our gratitude, to each and every one of you for that incredible commitment. Good people make good things happen, and you are great people in this room. You’re the champions, and we’re prepared and always ready to be your humble teammates in whatever it may be as we set our goals and our ambitions. So, thank you for everything. Thank you for 75 years.”

Gladchuk went on to introduce one of the evening’s keynote speakers and best-known A&SP Foundation scholars: National Football League legend Roger Staubach ’65. Staubach and Navy’s other Heisman Trophy winner, the late Captain Joe Bellino ’61, USNR (Ret.), each spent a year at New Mexico Military Institute and Columbia Prep, respectively, before launching their Navy careers.

“It takes a lot of unspectacular preparation to get spectacular results,” said Staubach. “You have to work at getting things accomplished, and the Naval Academy taught me that. The Navy gave me a foundation in my life that allowed me to have a wonderful family, a great wife, get on a pretty decent football team, run a real estate firm and watch our grandchildren grow. It’s all because of the foundation of what it means to give a darn about someone other than yourself, which I learned from the Naval Academy. It’s a real honor to say this to the Foundation kids out there tonight—you’ve come to the Naval Academy. You’re going to really, really appreciate it, and you’re going to be thankful the rest of your life, as I am.”

Superintendent Vice Admiral Sean Buck ’83, USN, also offered a few words. “We’ve got a packed house tonight, and that’s an indication of all the love and respect for what the Naval Academy stands for, specifically for the physical mission and how important it is to the development of the fierce, lethal warriors that we need to defend our country. Your generosity has made a huge difference in thousands of young men and women’s lives. Let me put an exclamation point on two very important words that you’ve heard from Tom Lynch, Chet Gladchuk and Roger Staubach tonight: Thank you!”

A Fond Farewell: Captain Ed Wallace ’72, USN (Ret.)

Athletic & Scholarship Programs’ 75th anniversary gala offered an opportunity to say thank you and farewell to one of the key elements of its success over the past two decades—Captain Ed Wallace ’72, USN (Ret.), who retired as vice president of A&SP in December 2019.

Wallace joined A&SP from the Academy’s admissions office, where he served as director of admissions. A Navy pilot, he spent 27 years on active duty, with service including Commander, Patrol Squadron 26; Chief of Staff for Patrol Wing 11; and Director, GPS Navigation and Space Communications Programs. Just a few years before Wallace came on board at A&SP, his own son, Captain Ken Wallace ’98, USN, went through the Foundation program at the Kiski School.

“He has been my right hand. He is my go-to guy,” said Rear Admiral Thomas C. Lynch ’64, USN (Ret.), chairman of A&SP. “In his tenure here, more than 1,100 young men and women have gone through our schools. We have 200 at the Naval Academy today. Ed can tell you the names of every one of them. He can tell you about their families as well. Many headmasters of the schools we work with are here tonight; there is total adulation for Ed and all he has done year in and year out.”

Wallace was relieved by Captain Don Hughes ’88, SC, USN (Ret.), who previously served as the Academy’s supply officer.

Source: 2020 Jan-Feb Shipmate