My alma mater, Bradley University, hasn’t had a football team for a long time. In fact, the school discontinued its football program while I was still a student. So on Saturdays in the fall, I like to check in on the football team for DOT's service academy, the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, NY.
And although there are still a lot of football games left to play this season, it will be difficult for the Mariners to top Saturday’s last-second win over their long-time rivals, the Bears of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.
It doesn’t get all the attention of the Army-Navy Game, but the rivalry between these two service academies is just as intense. When the Coast Guard was part of the DOT family, the two teams would play each year for a trophy called the Secretary’s Cup. Now that the Coast Guard is part of the Department of Homeland Security, the trophy has been renamed the Secretaries’ Cup. But whatever it's called, both teams and their fans circle this match-up on their calendars every year.
The two teams met again Saturday, with the Mariners looking to reclaim the cup after last year's narrow loss. It didn’t look good to start. Down 14-0 and then 21-10, the Mariners fought back to tie the game with 1:53 remaining. Kings Point drove down the field and, with only eight seconds left, Chase Dunn, a sophomore from Dade City, FL, caught his third touchdown pass of the day to bring the Secretaries’ Cup back to Kings Point in thrilling fashion, 35-28.
I want to offer my congratulations to Coach Mike Toop and his team, but I hope that Superintendent RADM Philip Greene and the rest of the Mariner community know that I’m extremely proud of everyone at Kings Point, not just the athletes. Our nation has relied on capable merchant mariners for years to keep America strong and secure, and I am confident that these young men and women will leave the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy well-equipped to handle the 21st century challenges of maritime service.