Winning the CIC Trophy: A grad's perspective
By Capt. Jonathan Hicks , 2003 U.S. Air Force Academy Grad
/ Published November 12, 2010
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany --
Starting with my recruiting trip to the Air Force Academy as a high school senior, I was taught that losing to Army and Navy was not an option. As an athlete you want to get on the field and not only compete, but win every game. During the week of practice leading up to a service academy game, the desire to win and the intensity at which you practice is higher than normal because you know your opponent's desire and intensity will be just as high.
I had the opportunity to watch the Air Force vs. Army game live in Germany on American Forces Network. I was overcome with a huge sense of pride and satisfaction at the end of the game. It felt like a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders because I knew the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy was coming back home where it belongs.
I immediately began reminiscing about all of the times I walked into the cadet field house and saw the CIC Trophy sitting there as a result of the hard work the entire organization put in on the field and in the weight room. I also remembered how painful it was walking into the field house, when I was a 2nd Lt. working as the assistant film coordinator with the team, and seeing the trophy gone after we lost to Navy. I thought about the sadness in the locker room after the game and during the following week of practice. The Falcons lost a couple of tough games over the past month so I was happy to see the resiliency of the team and their ability to bounce back and get a great win for themselves, the program and the Air Force.
After the football season, all of the football players go their separate ways. Although we remain close and the brotherhood lasts a lifetime, we typically don't get to spend as much time together as we did during the season. Going to the White House to be presented the CIC Trophy was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It brings all of the seniors back together for one last trip as a team; a trip we will remember forever. We toured the monuments, Pentagon and government buildings, met congressmen, enjoyed some free time on the town and toured the White House. Being in the same room as the most powerful man in the world, being able to shake his hand and have a brief conversation with him was truly inspiring. Standing in front of media from around the world while the cameras flashed is an unforgettable feeling and one of the proudest moments in my life. Sharing that moment with my brothers from the football team made that moment even better.
I have so many memories and funny stories from my time as an Air Force Academy football player, but the memories I cherish most are not from playing football at all. I cherish the memories of how close we were as a team, the fun we had in the locker room, in meetings, in class and while traveling. The bond an Air Force Academy football player has with other players past and present is something that lasts forever.
Winning the CIC Trophy is the number one goal for the AF Academy football program. If AFA ever had a two-win, 10-loss season, it would be very disappointing. However, if those two wins came against Army and Navy, the players and coaches could walk away from that season with a sense of accomplishment and pride for keeping the trophy home in Colorado Springs where it belongs.
As a member of the class of 2003, my teammates and I have the distinct privilege of being able to say we never lost to Army or Navy when we played. I take great pride in that accomplishment and it is something nobody can ever take away from us. My advice to the Falcon football players is this: Falcon football is about more than just the players on the team. You represent so much more; all players, past and present, all Academy grads, and the United States Air Force. When you get tired and start feeling the grind of Academy life, draw strength from all of your brothers (past players) and know that we are cheering our hearts out for you each week because you are building on the legacy all of us have left behind. The last piece of advice is for the seniors. Enjoy the White House trip. It is long overdue and you guys earned it. Congratulations.