To celebrate Black History Month we will catch up with some Coast Guard Academy cadet-athletes and learn about why they chose the Academy, their experiences here and what Black History Month means to them.
Monet Masters, a senior from Howell, N.J., is a member of the track and field team and is the Bears top pole vaulter as well as a member of the Coast Guard cheerleading team.
In the opening meet of the indoor season on January 16th, she set the facility record in the pole vault with a vault of 11 feet, 1.75 inches. That record had special meaning to Masters because the record was set by Kim Johnson, a former assistant coach at the Academy. Johnson set the record during the conference championships while attending Norwich Free Academy (NFA).
"Kim constantly pushed me and told me I could get that record easily," said Masters. " The problem was that the only home meet we ever had every year was the first meet of the indoor season so I was never starting off with the speed, strength, or height to beat the record, until this year. It was very satisfying to accomplish the goal that I have been working towards since my third class (sophomore) year."
She is also proud of being named the captain of the cheerleading team at the Academy, since she was never a cheerleader before. "Unless you count seventh grade, I was never a cheerleader," said Masters. "So to be able to gain the knowledge necessary to become the leader of the squad was a moment when I felt pretty proud of myself."
Masters, a Marine and Environmental Sciences major, realized all the opportunities that come with attending a service academy since her father went to West Point. After doing more research, attending Cadet for a Day and talking with track coach Ethan Brown, she figured the Coast Guard Academy was the best fit for her.
During her time at the Academy the most critical leadership skill that she has learned would be taking the time to listen to what upsets the people working for or next to you. "You may not always have the resources or ability to fix what is bothering them, but sometimes having someone just listen to what they have to say is enough."
"Black History Month tends to be a bit of a wakeup call for me every year," said Masters. "It reminds me that I do not want to be an average person. I should be helping make a difference for others so they can have it just a little bit easier than I did. I wouldn't say I save it for the month of February, but I like to learn about Black History and hear about what some of the greats did to get ideas and figure out what my legacy will be."
Masters is excited to graduate in May and get out into the fleet and serve her country. "Growing up, I had the naïve perception of serving the country as only being in the Army and doing pretty much what my father did. Coming to the Coast Guard Academy has taught me that there are so many opportunities and versions of serving and helping others that I would have never known had I not gone here."