As the calendar moves through February, we have a chance to look back and reflect as we celebrate Black History Month. In doing this, we will catch up with a pair of former Coast Guard student-athletes who distinguished themselves while at the Academy and have continued to do so upon seeking a military career following commencement. This is the second of two articles in which their success will be highlighted.
In the second installment in our series for Black History Month we caught up with former women’s soccer standout Olivia Grant. Grant, a 2004 graduate of the Academy, earned her degree in Mechanical Engineering and is currently a program manager who holds numerous Core Competencies through the Coast Guard. Upon completion of her military service, Grant enrolled in an online program through Villanova University, where she is on target to receive a post-graduate certificate in program management.
Her job, at present, requires her to be in charge of all engineering operations, maintenance, repair of propulsion, auxiliary, damage control, electrical and small boat equipment. Due to this she is accountable for ship’s survivability and damage control training of all crew members, as well as directing 35 engineering crew and $240K engineering budget out of $470K total operating budget, and $1.5M parts inventory. The engineering crew she oversees consists of four electricians, nine mechanics, eight HVAC specialists, and two welders.
While a cadet, Grant established herself as a premier soccer player in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference. A three-time all-NEWMAC selection, Grant still features prominently in the Coast Guard women’s soccer record book, with career marks that still stand in assists (15) and points (79) as well as single-season records for both goals (13) and points (29). In addition, she also ranks second in career goals (32) and third in single-season assists (5), while four of the top-10 single-season point totals and three of the top-ten single-season goal totals belong to her as well.
Grant speaks very highly of her experiences at Coast Guard and Academy life. She talked about the versatility and well-roundedness that the Coast Guard provides individuals with and how much of an asset that has been to her. Of her time at the Academy and how it prepared her for life, she said the major points were “teaching me how to multitask … When you have sports, class, drill, and personal time all competing for your attention you learn to prioritize and strategize.” According to her, it is a skill that cannot be adequately taught, but rather one that has to be lived.
Grant was a player on the first varsity soccer team, a team which she helped to start off with a bang. In the first game of the 2000 season, the then-freshman scored the lone goal as Coast Guard was able to knock off Trinity College, which plays in the premier league in the country, the NESCAC, for the only time in school history. Of the game, Grant says she doesn’t remember much, saying with a smile, “I believe I scored the only goal in that game but the details are fuzzy.”
In being recognized numerous times for her outstanding ability on the soccer field she calls her accolades very satisfying. “I worked extremely hard to be the best for as long as I could,” she started before adding that, “Soccer was actually a release for me. It was a mental vacation from exams and the hustle and bustle of Chase Hall.”
A native of Jamaica, Grant’s trek through the academy wasn’t always easy. “I was also born in Jamaica and raised in Miami so the cold and mountainous terrain was definitely a challenge for the first couple years,” she said, on having to get used to not only the cultural changes but the weather changes that people native to the area take little to no notice of.
Speaking to the meaning of Black History Month, Grant feels that black history is under-taught in school, especially given its scope and significance. “People who do not know their history are like trees without roots,” starts Grant, before continuing, “I don’t think we get enough black history in school; however, in the internet age lack of knowledge becomes a personal thing. We have a rich and powerful past we should take the time to reflect and remember how many died so we could live."