We’ve seen it in the movies, and many enlisted Marines may agree, there is a certain skepticism about brand new officers.
So, when I got the opportunity to speak with a midshipman playing in the upcoming Army – Navy football game, and who will soon be the Corps’ newest 2nd lieutenant, I thought: “Here’s another officer who probably thinks he knows it all.”
I was wrong. I’ll be the first to admit it. I had assumed, and we all know what happens when you ‘assume’.
As Simmons prepared for the game that he calls the culmination of a year’s preparation, he was able to sit down and give this young corporal some insight into his pre-game and pre-Marine mentality.
Tyler Simmons is the U.S. Naval Academy’s lead tackle. At the end of this year he will graduate then accept a commission as a United States Marine Corps officer. Through watching game highlights and conducting research on the man, it is clear that he is nothing short of a true Spartan on and off the field.
YOU’RE AT THE NAVAL ACADEMY, WHICH COMMITS YOU TO SERVICE. WHAT DROVE YOU THERE?
I’ve always wanted to be in the military and growing up I wanted to be a Marine. A lot of people from my hometown enlist in the Marine Corps. One of my best friends enlisted in the Marine Corps — it’s a small town thing. The Naval Academy gave me the opportunity to both serve my country and play football, so it was the best of both worlds.
WHY BECOME A MARINE, INSTEAD OF GOING INTO THE NAVY?
It’s basically the mentality of the two services. I felt the Navy was a little more laid back than the Marine Corps side.
Between the Marine Corps and football, I see a lot of similarities. It’s a hard working group and you have to know your assignment to a tee. That’s really what we get out of football.
I went on a training assignment this summer to 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines at Camp Lejeune and got to spend some time out in the field with the Marines. It really confirmed what I had thought; their work ethic and mentality is all hard work.
CAN YOU SEE ANY SIMILARITIES BETWEEN PLAYING A TEAM SPORT LIKE FOOTBALL AND LEADING MARINES?
In no way do I want to say that football is like the battles we’re seeing in Afghanistan, but on some basic level there may be similarities. In the game, no lives are in danger, but mentally you get thrown into the mix and you have to make quick game-time decisions. I foresee leading Marines as similar in the sense that you train and prepare over, over, and over again until its routine –so the decisions you make enforce success.
It’s basically just the brotherhood of the team. You’re going to do all that you can for the guy next to you and it’s really a special feeling to look around and see everyone giving one hundred percent. We’re busting our asses out there for each other. That’s what it’s all about to me.
EARLIER IN THE YEAR YOU WERE PLAGUED BY POTENTIALLY CAREER-ENDING INJURIES. WHAT DID YOUR RECOVERY TEACH YOU?
I was able to take a step back and learn what I was missing as well as what I had to do to make this a better team. It improved my work ethic better and showed me what I really had to do to be successful.
WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO BRING TO THE TEAM FOR THE UPCOMING ARMY-NAVY GAME?
This game is the culmination of a whole year’s hard work. This will make or break our season. You have to bring it all. For me, preparing for and playing in this game is going to be the hardest I work for anything. I want this — we all want this win, really bad. We have to bring our A-game and come out swinging.
IS THE NAVY GOING TO BEAT THE ARMY?
We are. Definitely.
YOUR TIME AT THE ACADEMY IS COMING TO AN END AND YOU’LL SOON BE COMMISSIONED AS A MARINE OFFICER. WHAT LESSONS WILL YOU BRING WITH YOU?
You have to work hard for what you want. What I’ve learned from the academy, and our football team, is that it’s really never about you. You must put the team in front of yourself. It’s great if you want to do everything for yourself, but nothing is going to work right if you do that. You have to be unselfish to be a good leader.
Simmons may prove to be a promising Marine officer; he has already unknowingly taught me a lesson.
So when you’re watching the Army-Navy game, make sure to be on the lookout for number 54 as he brings the full might and force of the United States Navy and Marine Corps down on the U.S. Army – Simmons assures me it will be a game to watch.
Semper Fidelis and GO NAVY!