“All right,” said her son, as though he’s suddenly stepped into the confessional. “I enjoyed video games, I did a lot of math, and I played scholastic bowl. I was a nerd.”
Now his taut body, even while sitting on the family couch while he’s home visiting from his current Alaska base on leave, looks like a coiled spring. If he can’t make it to the gym or run a bunch of miles daily, Little feels as if he’s being starved of oxygen.
What got him on his feet and marching was the hunt for a college to study engineering. His mom and dad, Tom Little, suggested he Google the best schools and – attention – West Point stepped forward to the front of the ranks. And for students who are bright enough academically, can take the discipline and agree to serve in uniform when they get out, a grateful nation also picks up their military academy tuition costs.
One other little catch is involved, too. West Point requires you to be very fit and ace a rigorous series of physical tests to pass muster and get in. Knowing that ordeal loomed in his future got Little off the couch in his high school freshman year and on the way to becoming a lean, fit, scholarly athlete.
By the time he graduated from St. Teresa, where the coaching staff lent him a lot of assistance, Little could have starred in a West Point recruiting poster. “We knew that if Ben really wanted to go to West Point, he would do it,” said his mom. “If Ben does anything, he does it absolutely to the best of his ability; his family is very impressed and very proud of him.”
His parents raised their boy not to brag much, either, but eventually, Mom can’t stand it and has to get out the graduation picture that shows her son receiving his West Point diploma from none other than President Barack Obama.
Out of a class of more than 1,000, her reformed nerd graduated 12th overall and third academically. His family was there to see him march into his graduation ceremony in uniformed, non-squishy triumph and then, at the end, do that thing they always do at West Point where the graduates throw their caps in the air in undisciplined exultation.
And, in case you were wondering, here’s the answer to that age-old question about what happens after gravity intervenes and the caps spin back to earth.<< previous 1 2