Ok, that’s it.
Seriously though, thank you.
You guys turned this program around. Before you got there, Army had just lost to Navy for the 12th straight year and let Rich Ellerson go. I’ll admit I liked him and thought he was the guy Army needed. I was also 13 years old, Ellerson was all I really knew.
Army hired this guy named Jeff Monken; I didn’t know what to think at first. I watched his introductory press conference and I instantly knew he’d be better than Ellerson was.
The first year looked bright; you guys only had four wins to show for it, but you could see a bright future ahead.
That next season when I would tell classmates at my school that Army was actually good, and that they would be good for time to come, they made fun of me. They called me crazy, told me about Navy’s 14-year streak, told me about the 2-10 record.
It felt like they were trying to make me ashamed to be an Army fan, but it only made my love for this team stronger. I felt like the only one who believed in you guys, I knew seasons like these past two would come, it was only a matter of time.
2016 came and I knew a big year was coming; week one against Temple only confirmed my beliefs.
A week later is when tragedy struck, as Brandon Jackson passed away. After that, it would’ve been easy to give up and wallow in the sadness that comes with losing a brother, but no. You guys, the fan base, the Corps all rallied together and became even closer. Just a week after his passing you guys went to El Paso and beat UTEP 66-14 in a game I’ll never forget.
You guys represented B Jack on the field the only way he would’ve wanted it, winning football games.
Then came time for Army/Navy and that 14-game streak which had caused me so much pain and agony, I wanted nothing more than to see it end. Late in the fourth quarter, down by three, on second and eight (or, numerically, 2nd and 8 – B Jack’s number), Ahmad Bradshaw gave Army the lead and the streak was over.
That streak ending meant no more getting made fun of for loving Army football, no more hearing “14 years” from Navy fans in person or on Twitter. It was over, it was fun to be an Army fan for the first time in my lifetime.
Your senior year started and there was one thing that all Army fans wanted to see you guys accomplish, win the Commander-in-Chief Trophy for the first time since 1996. When Air Force week rolled around, I’ll be the first to admit it, I didn’t know what to expect, the game was in Colorado Springs and Army hadn’t won there since 2005. But what did you guys do? Oh, just shut them out and win 21-0.
Then, Army/Navy came and you guys made it back to back against the Mids and brought the CiC back home where it belongs for the first time in 21 years. Two weeks later you got the Academy’s second 10 win season ever.
That on-field success is great; this class brought Army football back. It was in a dark place for nearly 20 years, now its back to where it belongs. 10 win seasons are now expected from this team, and you guys laid the foundation for it to happen.
But that’s not the only thing I got from this senior class of cadets.
To Alex Aukerman, thank you. For three and a half years you made me feel like I was a part of the Army football team. Every little thing, the birthday tweets, our conversations about how my Knicks are better than your Pacers, meant a lot to me.
To Jeff Ejekam, the same thank you is needed. You as well, made this fan feel as if he were a part of the team, interacting with me on social media, answer almost any question I had regarding the team. You and Alex were the first two guys I would go to.
To most they’re just interactions with athletes on social media but to me, they are so much more; it is hard to describe just what it meant to me.
Interacting with people you look up to is amazing; you guys are some of my heroes. Not just for what you do on the football field, but for what you are going to do afterward.
This entire class has brought so much happiness into Army fans lives but you two, in particular, have given me so much more than wins on a football field.
Thank you again,