Making the Commitment: Senior volleyball player commits to West Point Academy, plans to serve at least five years in Army after college graduation

Raine Andrews, Photo Editor

“Duty, Honor, Country.”
West Point Academy, a four-year coeducational federal service college, has held these three words as its motto since the school’s establishment in 1802.
Entering students, referred as cadets, are officers-in-training and upon graduation will be required to serve at least five years in the Army.
According to the West Point website, with around 5,000 students each year and a low acceptance rate, the school is ranked as one of the top schools in the country.
As of the beginning of August, senior Rachel Gearon committed to playing volleyball at the Academy.
“I had never heard of the school before,” she said. “I had no idea what it was, [but] I just fell in love with it.”
Playing competitively since she was 13 years old, Gearon said she always knew she wanted to play college volleyball.
“It’s always been a dream of mine ever since I was little, seeing the older girls go on and play volleyball,” she said. “[I knew I wanted to do] that one day myself. [I want] to be someone the younger girls look up to.”
Contacted last spring, Gearon said she was playing in a tournament when she was approached.
“The assistant coach just came up and told me they had been watching me a lot,” she said. “They were really interested in me, and they thought I should come out for a visit just to see if it was something I was interested in.”
Making her first official visit last spring, Gearon said she was able to get a feel for the school and the team.
“It was during finals, so [the team wasn’t] really playing volleyball then,” she said. “But I got to meet most of the team. They were all really great.”
Gearon said her team at BV helped impact her decision.
“My high school coaches have helped me so much,” she said. “[Volleyball coach Dave Johnson has] supported me and given me recommendations [and] has helped me all around, volleyball wise and not volleyball wise. My team has also helped along the way too.”
Gearon said she has learned a lot from her high school experience and these lessons will benefit her in the future.
“I’ve learned it takes a lot of teamwork and communication to achieve goals,” she said. “[Also], you don’t have to like someone, but you do have to get along with them on the court, and I think that’s important in life because you really don’t have to like a person, you must have to be able to work with them.”
Interested in studying children’s health, Gearon said there are a lot of steps to obtaining the degree.
“I want to study pre-med, bio-chem and then hopefully go into med school to become a pediatrician,” she said. “Twelve to 15 students from each class will apply to med school, and the government will pay for any college you want, but then you will owe a year of service [per school year].”
During her five years of active duty, Gearon said she will be working in the medical field and have a choice in her future deployments.
“I will be working in a hospital on an army base,” she said. “A lot of the girls said their number one option [is] Greece, but I was like, ‘Yikes, I don’t know if I would want to go.’ I could stay in the United States and work on an army base, so maybe once I get there I will see if I want to travel more. Now I just want to stay in the U.S.”
With similarities and differences, Gearon said West Point will be a new atmosphere.
“It’s a lot different mostly because of the military, and it is more structured,” she said. “It’s just a completely different college experience.”
Gearon said her parents have been extremely supportive and played a huge role in her decision.
“My parents have been so supportive of it and did a ton of research on [the school],” she said. “[They] have supported me a ton by driving me all over the place to different states for different things and practices. And paying for it too — it’s not very cheap, but they knew it’s what I love, so they supported me and let me play.”
Gearon said she looks forward to the years after school.
“I am so excited [for when] I get out and all of the opportunities that will be opened to me and everything I will be able to do and all of the connections I will have.”
Gearon’s younger sister sophomore Grace Gearon said she looks up to her older sibling.
“I strive to be like Rachel,” Grace said. “She gets good grades and is a good kid and is always working hard on the court. Our whole family always thought if someone in our family was going to go play [a college sport], it would be her because she is just super dedicated and always works hard.”