In conjunction with the final game of the regular season the Bear Club will host its inaugural CGA Football Brotherhood Weekend.
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"The Bear Club and the USCGA Alumni Association recognize that the scheduling of this game at the end of the season, plus the live coverage by ESPN only heightens an already intense rivalry," said Trueson Tarinelli, Director of the Bear Club. "We want to make sure and take advantage of such a great opportunity to invite all former CGA Football players to participate in what will be an extraordinary weekend!"
The weekend will be an opportunity for former players from all decades to reminisce about their time on the gridiron at the Academy.
Pat Knowles has been a part of the Coast Guard football brotherhood both as a player and as an assistant coach.
"The Long Blue Line of Coast Guard Academy grads is a very close-knit community born of shared service to country and humanity," said Knowles. "Within this community is an even tighter-bonded subset - the Football Brotherhood. Grads returning to Homecoming class reunions typically only encounter former teammates in their class. The beauty of the CGA Football Brotherhood Weekend is it gives the Brotherhood a chance to celebrate and reminisce with their football Brothers in the classes junior and senior to them – in much the same way team victories were celebrated."
There is no bigger rival for Coast Guard than Merchant Marine as the teams battle each year for the Secretaries' Cup and ESPN's involvement makes the first reunion extra special.
"Football is a difficult sport, particularly at a military academy, and especially at the Coast Guard Academy," said Knowles. "The chance to celebrate with my former teammates, to watch the Kings Point game, to participate in a national sports broadcast that celebrates veterans, the Coast Guard and football is really the chance of a lifetime. Rare is it that one gets the chance to be in on the ground floor of a 'new tradition', and that is what we are starting here."
Knowles recalls his favorite moments both as a player and as coach at the Academy.
"To me, the best part of every game is observing the sidelines during the National Anthem," said Knowles. "If you want to see the difference between a Coast Guard football team and other teams, watch the sidelines."
Knowles recalled one game at Giants Stadium as a player.
"It was fourth class year playing Pace University in Giants Stadium. It was raining, and the few fans there were huddled under the overhang – making the stadium look empty. Row-after-row of empty red stadium seats. I spent pre-game studying my FORTRAN textbook in the locker room because a good grade on the looming exam meant I could go home at Christmas a few days early – home for the first time since Swab Summer," said Knowles. "As a result of starter's injury, I played a significant amount and earned one of the defensive MVP's for the week. My dad happened to be in NYC from our home in Missouri, so he got to see me play. We won. I was even able to wrangle some Special Libo to spend Saturday night with him and return to New London on Sunday. And I ended up doing well enough on my FORTRAN exam that I did get a few extra days of Christmas leave."
"I've coached five times as long as I played, but my most indelible memories revolve around the interplay between sports and military professionalism," Knowles added. "About half way through a typical football season, Evening Colors starts occurring during practice. One time, just after a practice punt had been kicked and the team fanned out to cover, Attention-to-Colors was sounded. Immediately all action ceased and the team and coaches face the flag pole and stood at attention – all while the ball was still in the air! The ball falls back to Earth and bounces around untouched until Carry On was sounded and then practice proceeded as if no interruption had occurred. This type of thing only occurs at one of the four federal military service academies – nowhere else. The beauty of that brief pause is that it's a chance to think about what the Coast Guard means and to reflect on what it means to be an American."
Every Coast Guard player and coach has a story to tell and each one of them will surely be sharing their favorite stories on this special weekend in November. We hope you can join us for what promises to be a memorable weekend for the Football Brotherhood.