12-10-2013 12:42 PM
Evetts at an Army game in 2003
By David Evetts, Director of Executive Operational Planning at USAA
As I sat in the locker room on Dec. 4, 2004, I realized my life was about to change. This was my last game as a West Point football player. This was the last time I was going to wear the jersey, knock helmets with an opponent and run onto the field in front of thousands of screaming fans. I realized that this moment was the culmination of my life as a football player and the beginning of a new career. With the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq really ramping up, my life was about to change.
The significance of the Army-Navy game is drilled into every cadet from the moment you arrive at the academy. Even the milk cartons in the cadet mess hall say “Go Army, Beat Navy.” As a player, I focused on the actual game between the white lines. But when I came back last year as a veteran and a USAA employee, I realized that this is much more than a game.
The legacy of the game connects generations of graduates and fans as they gather annually to watch these two proud institutions renew their storied rivalry. As a veteran, I looked out to the cadets and midshipmen who will undoubtedly represent our country across the globe; the only difference is that this time they will wear a different uniform as they deploy abroad.
The cadets and midshipmen playing in the game are a reflection of all who serve in the military. As I think back to my days of playing Army football, I realize that the leadership lessons I learned then have guided me through my time in the military and now at USAA.
- Team is always more important than self. Always be humble because no one is bigger than the team, and the team will make you a better performer and person.
- Failure makes you better. It is why we watch film after every practice and game; there is always something you can do to get better.
- Hard work always pays off. Embrace the process of getting to your goals and embrace the difficulty along the way.
- Compassion, love and caring are leadership traits. Making a personal investment in the team, your teammates and your purpose is the only way to truly lead.
As I return to USAA after reflecting on my time at West Point, I understand how special our mission is — to serve the military community and veterans. I am proud to say that I am now on the USAA team and that what I do makes a difference to all members of the military community. Our sponsorship of the Army-Navy game could not be a better representation of our core values and our mission.
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