"The football team at the U.S. Military Academy is not like other college football teams. At other schools, athletes are catered to and coddled at every turn. At West Point, they carry the same arduous load as their fellow cadets, shouldering an Ivy League-caliber education and year-round military training. After graduation they are not going to the NFL but to danger zones halfway around the world. These young men are not just football players, they are soldiers first. New York Times sportswriter Joe Drape takes us inside the world of Army football, as the Black Knights and their third-year coach, Rich Ellerson, seek to turn around a program that had recently fallen on hard times, with the goal to beat Navy and "sing last" at the Army-Navy game in December. The 2011 season would prove a true test of the players' mettle and perseverance. With unprecedented access to the players and the coaching staff, Drape introduces us to this special group of young men and their achievements on and off the field.
Against the scandal-ridden college football landscape, Drape, a New York Times reporter and author of Our Boys: A Perfect Season on the Plains with the Smith Center Redmen, closely examines the Black Knights football team, representing the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, on the gridiron while preparing to serve their country. He notes the central theme motivating Army football as "duty, honor, and country," a tradition stressed at the national landmark established in 1802. Jointly emphasizing the excellence of education and the rigors of military training, Drape captures the vitality of the team's three-year coach (1960-63), Rich Ellerson, and his revamped football team, including the tales of players and real-life heroes Larry Dixon, Trent Steelman, and Tyson Quink. Special attention is paid to the recent hard-fought season of the Black Knights, notably the thrilling peak of the Army-Navy game, done in broad strokes as if by ESPN talking heads. In the end, Drape's arresting account of West Point cadets on the football field and battlefield scores powerfully for both sport fans and military history buffs. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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September 04, 2012
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