By Tim Volkmann
The United States Military Academy Cadet Chain of Command will have a distinct athletics flavor this year as three cadet-athletes were appointed to some of the highest student leadership positions at the Academy.
Senior football captain Mike Viti was named a Regimental Commander, while Deputy Brigade Commander Daniel Newell and Brigade Corps Squad Officer Doug Jones are senior captains of the men’s soccer teams.
Newell will be holding down the second-highest position in the cadet chain of command, overseeing all 4,400 cadets at the Academy. A starter for every single game since his freshman year, Newell has garnered Second-Team All-Patriot League honors for the past two seasons and was named the conference Rookie of the Year in 2004. The Scottsdale, Ariz. native spent the past summer playing with the Colorado Rapids of the USL Premier Development League, the top under-23 men’s amateur league in the country. Newell has also maintained a grade point average over a 4.0.
“If there is a cadet at the Academy that can handle the responsibility of being the captain of our team as well as serve as the second-highest position in the Cadet Chain of Command, all while maintaining a 4.0 G.P.A., it is Dan,” said head men’s soccer coach Kurt Swanbeck. “The fact that he has been recognized by the team as a captain, and recognized by the Academy as a leader, is a testament to what he has been doing for the past three years. Being named to such a position doesn’t add any pressure or change what he is capable of doing, because this is how hard he has been working all his life.”
As one of four regimental commanders, Viti is in charge of over 1,000 students and supervises two battalions and eight companies of cadets. He essentially sets the course for one-quarter of the student body while serving as a liaison between the military leadership and the cadets.
“It was really a great honor,” said Viti, a fullback from Berwick, Pa. “I was very surprised when they approached me about the position. It is not everybody who gets selected for it. I figured it as such a rare opportunity. I talked about it with my family. I said, Am I going to be upset that I didn’t take on this challenge?’ I didn’t want to sit there after graduation thinking about something I didn’t do. I actually wanted the position”
Brig. Gen. Robert Caslen Jr., Commandant of the Cadets, said, “Mike is mentally and physically tough, a totally selfless team player who always leads from the front. He is a tremendous leader and role model for every member of the Army football team, and for every member of the Corps of Cadets. Mike is the exact type of inspirational leader America needs leading her sons and daughters both at West Point and in today’s Army.”
Jones has been a starter along side Newell on the Black Knight defense for the past three years. A large part of his duties will include serving as a liaison between the athletics department and the Corps of Cadets and getting as many of the cadets as possible to come out and support their classmates. Hailing from Dallas, Texas, he was selected to spend part of his summer abroad studying European Security Studies at the Marshall Center in Germany. He also trained with a local club team, FC Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
“Doug is similar to Dan in that he was also picked to hold down a leadership detail that not many cadets get chosen for,” continued Swanbeck. “He was selected to go to Germany over the summer and participate in other things that took him away from his training sessions, but also put him in a position to represent the team and corps in front of the public eye. He has come back with a wealth of leadership that will go along way in not only our team success, but in his development into a quality officer in the Army.”