This article originally appeared in the Sept. 12, 2009 edition of the Army Football Game Day Program vs. Duke.
By Ryan Yanoshak
Mike Krzyzewski is not only a former Army basketball player and West Point graduate. He is also a former Army basketball coach who experienced success as a player and coach. And while he hasn’t been employed by the U.S. Military Academy since 1980, he is still an active part of post and having a positive impact on the Corps of Cadets.
His ties to West Point though go beyond basketball though. He served as chairman of West Point’s Distinguished Leadership Series, a program in which he helped bring titans of business and sport to post. He has developed friendships with Superintendent Lt. Gen. Buster Hagenbeck and Athletics Director Mr. Kevin Anderson. He inspired the “Mike Krzyzewski Teaching Character Through Sport Award,” and is often quoted about how beneficial his time at West Point was to his future success.
Last night, he received the ultimate athletic honor when he, along with seven other outstanding athletes, were inducted into the Army Sports Hall of Fame.
“Coach K” is one of eight who was inducted during last night’s black-tie affair. The Class of 2009 also included Bill Carpenter (football and lacrosse), Ralph Chesnauskas (football and hockey), Tracy Hanlon (track and field and women’s basketball), Ray Murphy (Athletic Director and football, basketball and lacrosse player), Nicki Robbins (softball), Jack Rust (lacrosse) and Thomas Truxtun (lacrosse and men’s soccer).
The eight honorees were officially inducted into the Army Sports Hall of Fame yesterday. A special afternoon plaque unveiling ceremony in the Kenna Hall of Army Sports inside Kimsey Center was followed by the formal banquet presented by Lockheed Martin at Eisenhower Hall. Best-selling author John Feinstein served as the master of ceremony.
The group will also be recognized during today’s football with a video tribute scheduled for halftime. A special photograph and autograph session is planned in Black Knights Alley prior to the contest.
The Army Sports Hall of Fame is a subset of the Kenna Hall of Army Sports, a comprehensive museum displaying Army’s rich and proud intercollegiate athletic program. It is located on the third floor of the Kimsey Athletic Center, Army’s massive football training facility.
“This is the ultimate honor for anyone who played on any West Point team,’’ Krzyzewski told the Times-Herald Record. “To be in the Army Sports Hall of Fame puts you with some of the greatest people who have played their sport. It is a great honor. I have always said that so much of what I do on a day-to-day basis is a result of my experiences as a cadet, an officer and as a coach at Army.”
The “Mike Krzyzewski Teaching Character Through Sport Award,” has been given out at West Point for the last four years and recognizes West Point athletes and coaches for their outstanding commitment to the development of noble character through athletic participation and leadership. The cadet recipient exemplifies the Army values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage both on-and-off the “fields of friendly strife.”
Before he was involved in the Leadership Series and honoring cadet-athletes, Krzyzewski (Sha-shef-skee), was an integral part of the Army men’s basketball program.
A member of the Class of 1969, Krzyzewski served as the team captain his senior season and earned three letters while helping the squad to two trips to the National Invitational Tournament.
“No one aspect of West Point did more for me than playing on the West Point basketball team,” said Krzyzewski in an 2007 Times-Herald Record story.
He took over as head coach in 1975 and posted a 73-59 mark during his five-year tenure. Among the highlights of Krzyzewski’s time on the West Point sidelines was a trip to the NIT in 1978, Army’s most recent berth in that prestigious tournament.
Krzyzewski departed Army for the head coaching position at Duke in 1980. He won three national championships (1991, 1992 and 2001) and was enshrined into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame after winning his third title for the Blue Devils. He recently won his 800th career game and also led the U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team to a gold medal in the 2008 Beijing Games.
Since that time, he has returned to West Point numerous times, speaking to faculty, staff and cadets and being honored as one of six distinguished graduates by the Association of Graduates in 2005.
Now, he returns as a Hall of Fame, with a class of stellar athletes.
Ryan Yanoshak is an Assistant Director of Athletic Communications at West Point.