To celebrate Black History Month we will catch up with some current and former Coast Guard Academy cadet-athletes and learn about why they chose the Academy, their experiences here and what Black History Month means to them.
Darius Adams, a junior from Nassau, Bahamas, is one of the most gifted athletes at the Academy. He was a member of the men's basketball team for two years averaging 9.3 points and 5.8 rebounds per game as a sophomore.
As a member of the outdoor track team last year, Adams earned All-NEWMAC honors with a second place finish in the long jump (21.6.75) and this year during the current indoor season he continues to close in on the school record in the long jump. He is currently first in New England with a leap of 22-10.5, the school record is 23 feet set by Carl Luxhoj in 2008.
Adams had a breakout season as a member of the football team this Fall as Adams playing his first year of football at any level, set of tied three records and earned several postseason accolades.
He was named to the 2016 New England Football Writers Division II/III All-New England Team. He was also named the New England Football Conference (NEFC) Offensive Rookie of the Year and was a first team all conference selection.
Adams broke single-season school records with 1,054 receiving yards and 13 touchdown receptions while also tying the single-game record of three touchdown receptions twice this season. He was second on the team with 47 receptions.
He led the NEFC and was 17th nationally with his 1,054 yards and 13 touchdowns (11th nationally). Adams was second in the conference with 105.4 yards per game (21st nationally) and 22.4 yards per reception (13thnationally).
Adams, an Operations Research and Computer Analysis major, choose the Academy because it was an opportunity to give back to his country. He will join the Royal Bahamas Defense Force (RBDF) upon graduation in May.
"Giving back to my country is something I wanted to do all my life. Everything I learn here at the Academy, I am always thinking of how I can apply it back home," said Adams. "My country is responsible for sending me here and that is where I am going to serve. Just being able to see that I can help better my country will bring me happiness."
The Academy is a challenging place especially for an international cadet. "Being an international student, it is never quite an easy road when you think about living in another country, separated from family, friends, and a different culture," said Adams. "The numbers of international cadets are limited at each Academy, so you have to find ways to prove yourself that you will represent your country the best you can."
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the first African American graduate of the Academy, Commander Merle Smith, and the football team wore a helmet sticker this season to honor him and that was special to Adams.
"The significance of Black History Month to me is that it allows me to celebrate those who came before us and paved the way," said Adams. "Being a cadet at the United States Coast Guard Academy, the first person that comes to mind is Merle Smith, the first African American graduate from the Academy. He broke barriers to allow me, a black Bahamian, and others to attend such a school. It gave me great pride that we acknowledged him all season long during football season."
While Adams has had several memorable moments in Athletics his most memorable moment at the Academy was during his 3/c summer when Eagle made a port call in Nassau which allowed him to see family and friends while also giving those an opportunity to see what he and his shipmates did over the summer.
The Academy creates leaders and Adams believes the biggest skill he has learned here is being a team player and understanding the importance of team work.
"Once you are a good team player you will begin to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the people that you work with," said Adams. "Understanding that will give us insight on how to deal with certain people at different levels."
Adams also looks at the Company officers at the Academy and the way that they lead. "I take snippets from each one that I think will make a successful leader in the military. Also, the constant grind we have here at the Academy. That atmosphere shows me that time is precious," said Adams. "With that, a lot of times some things doesn't work out the way you planned it, therefore you always should have a backup plan. In the Coast Guard that's one of the ways we refer to Semper Paratus. I have also seen shipmates come and go. In life you never know what can happen. That's why you should cherish the moments while you can."
We look forward to following Darius' achievements in athletics until his graduation next May and wish him the best of luck when he returns to the Bahamas.