WEST POINT, TO THEE

By Senior Paul Adams Army West Point Men’s Rugby

“For he today who sheds his blood with me shall be my brother.”
I will never forget this moment.
There is a video about Army men’s rugby that was made a few years ago. It talks about the team, the brotherhood, the legacy, our traditions and our rivalry with Navy.
I have seen this video probably 100 times throughout the last five years and as the years have gone on, this video and some of the words said have taken on a whole new depth of meaning for me.
Before it was just a cool video. Now when I watch, it allows me to relive some of those moments that I have experienced.
The part of the video that has always stuck out the most is, “it’s just one of those things, you get a feeling in your gut, you get this intense focus, it’s always going to be a battle.” Every time I watched that video those lines always stuck out to me, and then finally come my junior year, I understood why.
My junior year we were playing Notre Dame College in what was a massively important game for us. They were a good team that had been building momentum all season.
Moreover, the year prior they had beaten us in one of the biggest upsets of the year in a game that came down to the wire. Our confidence had been building throughout the fall, and this was the first big test to see if our confidence matched our competence. During the first half it was neck and neck, but I could feel that they were starting to break.
Five minutes left in the half and I was in pain. My body was spent, and my lagging groin injury was starting to flare up causing some sharp pains throughout. I did not think I was playing well, and it was starting to get in my own head. I could feel the doubt creeping in … a penalty was called and we were going to scrum. For those who don’t know what rugby is or haven’t seen a scrum, this is when eight players from each team crouch down and push against one another in a contest for the ball. My position (prop) is hugely important for the scrum and often times if a scrum does not go well, you can trace it back to something I did wrong.
The whistle was blown, and each team prepared for the scrum. I jogged over pushing down the pain and tiredness I was feeling while trying to not dwell on some of the mistakes I had made. As I got in position, I turned around and made eye contact with one of my teammates Rob Niscior. Nothing was said, but we both knew. I got that “feeling in my gut …intense focus.” With a surge of energy flowing through my veins, I took a deep breath and crouched down for the scrum. This energy ripped through my body. We pushed them back, won the ball and asserted our dominance.
This was not the game winning moment or anything even close to that. We ended up beating this team handily. However, this moment meant a lot to me. In that two-second glance with my brother, I was filled with the energy and focus to push down the voice inside me about the pain and weakness I was feeling in my body.
I will never forget the moment that those words I heard became a reality that I experienced fully with every fiber of my being. That “feeling in your gut” is one that I will not forget.
The Army rugby brotherhood has undoubtedly been the highlight of my time at West Point. I am filled with nothing but absolute gratitude and humility.
Gratitude, for the countless experiences that I have had with my brothers on and off the field. Gratitude, for the crucible that is the game of rugby and the journey along the way. Humbled, because I got to spend every day surrounded by men far greater than myself.
Often, I felt out of place and undeserving of even being on the team in the first place. Humbled, because of all the men who came before me and left the jersey and the team in a better place then they found it. Men who have had a profound impact on my life and taught me about life and what it means to be a man. Not with their words, but the deeds they did a daily basis.
Sadly, this chapter of my life is closed. I feel an incredible and exciting responsibility to lead a life that brings honor to the brotherhood that I will always be a part of. I cannot wait for what the future holds.
Make me worthy of these men….
Let me not fail them….

—Paul Adams