Army vs Stanford

After 10 consecutive years as a college football coach's wife - including five with West Point - Saturday's Army game at Stanford was more than just a fun outing. It was an unexpected emotional journey that reminded me what makes USMA so special.

First let's get our new guests up to speed...

 

Army vs Stanford

My husband, Andy, was a hard-working, dedicated coach and recruiter at West Point from 2009-2013. We did not leave on our own terms. Although not entirely unexpected (the life of a coach's wife is a rocky one!), it was a tough goodbye. We are now happily re-settled in San Luis Obispo where my husband is teaching at Cal Poly and working on football analytics. I am a structural engineer and the owner-designer-maker at STRUCTUREbags.

Now, about Saturday...

We were guests of a Stanford alumna. Danni is the sister of a good friend and part of a huge Stanford-cheering family. I'd like to say it was with great restraint and respect for these fans and friends that I did not wear Army gear.

Somehow, though, it was a relief to blend in - my camo wristlet stayed tucked away in a larger bag.

The drive and pre-game were uneventful. "Little STRUCTUREbags" did choose to wear the Army dress I made last season and even hedged her bets by adding a Stanford "S" to her cheek.

Army vs Stanford

The real fun began inside the stadium.

I was drawn to the Army fans. I found myself searching for them. I wanted to ask my usual questions: "Do you have a son on the team?" "Are you an Alum?" But, I didn't want to answer the questions I would get in return. So, I kept to myself.

During warm ups, "Little" and I made it down to the rails. This is when my pride peeled away and I was my old self. We held up our sign for Larry Dixon and Angel Santiago (made at the Stanford tailgate). We cheered and waved to the players we knew - and there were plenty. A few gave us a wave or a smile even while staying focused.

As we took our seats before kick-off, I was feeling good. Excited for the guys, excited to watch a great team like Stanford play on their home field. And then, the Black Knights ran out of the tunnel.

I cried.

I cried not because I still wished I was at West Point. I cried not because I wished I was still a coach's wife.

Army vs Stanford

My tears came as I remembered all that I learned at West Point. My heart was filled with pride and love for the young men taking the field. It was filled by what these men represent: duty, honor, country.

I thought of the players' kind hearts and generosity of time - even though they have little. I thought of the parents who trusted my husband and believed in West Point when then sent their sons off to Army. I thought of the connections I made and maintain with military wives.

I thought of the new cadet we met in 2009 at an ice cream social. Young, green, eager. Although not a football player, he adopted us as his sponsor. Us! Non-military! We grew close. We shared meals. We shared a beer just after his 21st birthday. We attended his ring ceremony. We texted as he nabbed his first-choice branch. He is now learning to fly Black Hawks. We will attend his wedding in the spring.

I thought of the wedding "Little STRUCTUREbags" was in - a flower girl for two new USMA grads.

I thought of all the "Dylans" - the nickname our daughter had for all cadets, because that was the name of one of "our" cadets.

But time did not stand still. The game went on.

Army vs Stanford

Although it was a tough game for Army, many of Andy's "players" and recruits excelled on Saturday. We were thrilled for them and their families.

After the game, another tough choice: do we stay and meet the players? Yes. And it was a great choice.

We shared all the normal things West Pointers share: Hugs. Plebe/Yuk/Cow/Firstie stories. Studies. Scrambling. Rings. Branching.

There was football talk, but very little. Because West Point was - and always will be - so much more than football.

West Point changes you if you let it.

Even if you've never been to West Point. Even if you've only visited. Even if you've only seen cadets play football on TV. Let West Point change you. Let cadets change you.

Honor them. Thank them. They are worth it.

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STRUCTUREbags is a proud strategic partner of Team Red, White & Blue, an international non-profit founded at West Point.

STRUCTUREbags invests $1 per item sold from the Camo with a Cause line in Team RWB’s ongoing social and athletic programs for veterans and their families.