“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” –John F. Kennedy
Captain is defined as a title given to the person in command.
Brandt said the highlight of his senior year was the day he led the Bear’s football team to victory over the Merchant Marine Academy to win the Secretaries’ Cup in the final game of the season. However, Brandt’s most important position was not on the field, but as battalion commander for the Corp of Cadets, responsible for the day-to-day life in Chase Hall.
Brandt went through a series of interviews for the position during his junior year before he was notified that he would be battalion commander for the upcoming summer.
During the summer, Brandt was responsible for representing the Corps of Cadets at official functions and served as the senior cadet at all parades and ceremonies. He was also responsible for maintaining a high state of morale within the Corps.
“Being battalion commander is a very unique experience,” said Brandt. “The Academy puts a lot of trust and faith into the summer staff.”
Serving as battalion commander is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for Brandt and is something he has not taken for granted.
“Being the leader is what taught me how to be a leader,” said Brandt. “I didn’t sit down and think about my effective leadership philosophies, I just tried to act natural and do what I thought was right.”
Summer time at the Academy can be very hectic especially for the battalion commander. As cadets come and go with the different summer phases, new swabs are moving into Chase Hall and need lots of help.
Training the new swabs starts before the sun is up and staff planning meetings don’t end until long after dark. The swab summer staff look to the battalion commander for approval and motivation.
“BCs need to be themselves,” said Brandt. “I was told once that the only way you can fail as a leader is by trying to be somebody you’re not. You’ve got to be willing to sacrifice everything to achieve your goals, and you have to believe that you can always work harder. If you think you’re working hard enough, and if you think that you’ve ‘made it’, then you’ve probably already begun to decline.”
A Marlton, New Jersey, native, Brandt knew he wanted a career that made a difference.
“I wanted my life to matter,” said Brant. “When I heard about the Coast Guard’s missions and that at the Academy I could play more than one collegiate sport, I was very interested.”
Brandt played football, baseball, and basketball in high school and wanted to continue playing sports in college. He was recruited to the Academy for football and baseball.
“Being a leader for the Corps is a lot like playing sports,” said Brandt. “You practice, run drills, watch others, practice some more, then when the clock is ticking and the ball is in your court, you know what to do.”
Being named a team captain is quite the honor. The position of captain is given to those athletes whom the rest of the team respect and trust to lead the team in the right direction.
However, with this great honor also comes great responsibility. A captain must be accountable after a bad performance or practice. Captains are expected to perform in the clutch and lead the team to victory. It is also expected that captains will maintain control in the most pressurized situations and be the model of excellence for their teammates.
On Nov. 8, 2018, the Bear’s football team faced off against their rivals, the Merchant Marine Academy, and won, 26-12. The Bears had not won against MMA since 2014 and had not won at MMA since 1996.
“It felt great to beat them,” said Brandt. “I will never forget it — how happy the team was. Everyone was cheering.”
This year, the Bear’s football team had the most wins since the 2007 season.
“The whole team bought into the same goals,” said Brand. “It clicked. We worked together like brothers and refused to loose.”
Brandt has also been the baseball team co-captain for two years.
Brandt said both of his parents played sports in college.
His dad worked in minor league baseball for 20 years after playing college ball at Yale University. His mom cross-country skied and played soccer at St. Michael’s College before transferring to Boston College where she sailed. She currently works at St. Joan of Arc Elementary School as marketing director and is the head girl’s varsity basketball coach, where she has won four league championships.
His younger brother Kevin is a freshman at Western New England University where he plays football.
“Mom and dad raised Kevin and I on the baseball field and they each coached us when we were younger,” said Brandt.
“The only time we weren’t doing something related to sports was when we went to school during the week and church on Sundays.”
This summer Brandt will join the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Escanaba in Boston as a deck watch officer.
“I am really excited to be starting my Coast Guard career,” said Brandt. “Wherever I go, I hope to continue to expand upon the lessons I have learned at the Academy from officers, chiefs, professors, and my classmates while serving in the Coast Guard.”