Guntersville cross country star Sam Moultrie is being wooed by different colleges to come and run for them. But a couple of invites lately have surprised him and started him thinking about a path he had not previously considered.
He was contacted by the coach at the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland. Sam and his father Steve Moultrie visited a couple weeks ago and Sam liked it a lot.
But Sam, Steve and mom Julie Moultrie all caution that getting an appointment to a service academy is a complicated thing. Sam is applying, but it could be January or February before he knows.
It’s not just Navy that is interested in him.
The U.S. Military Academy at West Point also contacted him. The Moultries will visit West Point soon.
And on the way back from Annapolis, they got a call from the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado. They haven’t set up a visit there yet, but that academy showed interest too.
In addition to the service academies, Sam will soon visit the University of Alabama as well.
Service academy appointments are made by U.S. Senators, Congressmen and the Vice-President.
“A member of Congress can’t have more than 5 students from his district in the Naval Academy at any one time,” Steve said. He’s not sure how many Alabama’s Congressmen currently have there. But the Moultries are pursuing it.
“It was a huge honor just for the coach to call and invite him to visit,” Julie said. She coaches the GHS cross country team along with volunteer head coach Chris Bashaw.
She said an education at the Naval Academy is valued at $420,000 over 4 years. It’s almost a no brainer to go if given the opportunity, although it does come with an active duty service obligation afterwards.
Sam has some things working in his favor. His credentials are near impeccable. In addition to being a highly decorated runner, he’s a whiz in the classroom. He was ranked No. 2 academically in Guntersville High’s senior class at last count. He wants to be a doctor and said getting an education at the Naval Academy could certainly be a step in the right direction.
During his official visit, he spent 48 hours on campus and got to hang out with a group of freshmen cross country runners. Sam got to run with them 3 times.
“There’s a kid from Mobile on the team,” Steve said. “I have to give the coach credit. He said, ‘We’re going to tell you all the good stuff. But hang out with these guys and find out the ugly side of it too so you can make an informed decision.’”
Sam said everyone else had on a uniform and he was the only one in regular clothes. He said freshmen have to walk a certain way, salute upper classmen and don’t get as much liberty as the older cadets. But he warmed up to the routine pretty quickly.
“He told me the longer he was there, the more normal it seemed,” Steve said.
The Naval Academy is in downtown Annapolis and both Steve and Sam were impressed.
“It is a beautiful piece of earth,” Steve said. “The academy is surrounded on 2 sides by water.”
He said the town is historic.
“The Maryland State House is there,” Steve said. “Gen. Washington resigned his commission from the Army to take the Presidency at the State House.”
While they were there, the Moultries took an Uber to Washington D.C., a half-hour drive. It was Sam’s first time to see Washington and they very much enjoyed that too.
Steve was impressed with the Naval Academy cross country coach, Aaron Lanzel.
“He graduated from the Academy and made it all the way to the Olympic trials himself,’ Steve said. “Then he became a fighter pilot and flew 99 combat missions before coming back to coach. He’s done all that and he’s 37 years old.”
The question now for the Moultries will be how West Point compares to Annapolis.
Sam will take officials visits to West Point on Sept. 12 and Alabama on Oct. 5.