NEW LONDON, Conn. – This past the week The United States Coast Guard Academy held their 10th annual Spirit of the Bear Awards. The awards, named for the academy's mascot, recognize members of the academy community; military and civilian, academic faculty, professional staff, athletic coaches, EAGLE crew members, and other members of the broader Academy community who exemplify the very best in mentoring and developing cadets into Leaders of Character.
Eight awards were handed out at the ceremony, including four recipients who work within the Coast Guard Academy Athletic Department: Jay Driscoll, LCDR Jayna McCaron, LT Katie Shveda and Dr. William Simpson.
"We're very pleased that four of this year's Spirit of the Bear honorees are so deeply involved with CGA Athletics," said Director of Athletics Tim Fitzpatrick. "Each of them proudly and diligently play a very important role in the formation of service ready ensigns and their personal contributions to our success in Athletics are truly noteworthy."
Driscoll has been a member of the Bears football coaching staff for the past 25 years. He works with the Coast Guard's defensive line men who unanimously nominated coach Driscoll for the award. Among those players was junior Jack Brandt, who has played for coach Driscoll the last three years.
"Coach Driscoll's unwavering dedication to Bears football and his passion for coaching for the last quarter century make him a model for what it means to be a Spirit of the Bear award winner," commented Brandt. "Coach is a living legend at the Academy who never provides us with a dull moment on or off the field which is why we love playing for him so much."
McCaron has been a member of the cross country and track & field coaching staff for the last three years as a volunteer assistant. She has sacrificed her time to work with numerous athletes through three seasons of competition each year.
"LCDR McCaron, or coach McCaron for me, is someone who truly cares for her people and those around her", said senior distance runner Rachel Burchill. "She really notices when a person is acting not like their normal self, and will do all that she can do to support, comfort, or consult that person. And that to me is the most beautiful quality of her because it is apparent that her care is truly from the bottom of her heart."
Shveda, who served as team captain during both her junior and senior year while playing at the Academy, has been a volunteer assistant for the women's soccer team for the last three years. Not only does she bring her knowledge of the game to the coaching staff but is also a valuable resource for the cadets off the field.
"LT Shveda has been my mentor since my 3/c year, and has helped me through many obstacles I have faced at the Academy whether they were academic, in Chase Hall, or just getting back into sports after surgery, added senior forward Elley Donnelly. "Not only dedicated to the team on the soccer field, she keeps up with everyone's grades, and always offers advice for any problem you might be having. I've never seen LT Shveda in a bad mood: her positive attitude influences everyone on the team and definitely played a huge role in our record-breaking season."
Simpson has been working with the rifle team for the last five years as a match operations supervisor. The hours he volunteers has helped the team to continue to grow and become more successful.
"Dr. Simpson is a very valuable member of the Bear's shooting teams, said head coach Richard Hawkins. "He volunteers two days a week with the Cadets and also assists with our home competition. Without his assistance, the shooting team would not have been as successful."
Congratulations to all the winners and all you do to help support our cadets and guide them into becoming the Coast Guard's future leaders.