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The Sponsor Program

events and traditions Aug 02, 2018

With the sponsor meet and greet happening for the class 2023 on Sunday August 4th, I wanted to take the time to write about my sponsor story.  You may hear about the beginning of your midshipmen's sponsor story during the call home or definitely during Plebe Parents Weekend.

The Sponsor Meet and Greet

At the Sponsor meet and greet, I sat in the chairs of Alumni Hall anxiously waiting to meet my sponsor family.  Shortly after we arrived, I was met with welcoming and open arms from my sponsor parents. So at that point things were dandy, because honestly there was a 50/50 chance of things going poorly (some sponsor parents are no-shows… talk about a rough start).  

They had found me and directed me to the upper sections of Alumni where they were sitting with their son, who was also a plebe, and a third plebe.  So now I’m sitting away from all the detailers, and then my sponsor parents break out some freshly baked brownies and cookies.  Mind you, in the midst of Plebe Summer, this was like a divine intervention. These strangers were nice to me and brought me delicious snacks.

Up to this point, they were 3 for 3:  They showed up,  they were nice, and they brought food.  

I mean what could possibly go wrong?  Well here’s the thing: while this first date was going really well, there was a deal breaker. Towards the end of the time, they mentioned that they lived an hour and a half away from the Naval Academy. DUDE. Now this was the nicest family ever, but I was not going to spend 3 of my 12 hours of free time in a car.

What Happens If My Plebe’s sponsor Didn’t Show?

Or They Were Not A Good Personality Match?

I hope your plebe has a positive experience with the sponsor meet and greet. However, that is not always the case.  There are definitely cases in which the sponsors do not show up to the event, they live very far away, or quite frankly the plebe just doesn’t foresee enjoying spending time at their house. If that is the case, do not worry. It happens, and there is an easy remedy: find a friend who has a great sponsor, and just start going with them (if their sponsor is open to it, which most are).  

Thank Goodness I Was Adopted

So on the first Saturday of the Academic Year, I joined my teammate and good friend, James Hemphill, and went to the Pilcher household.  

I didn’t know it then, but I was about to meet the family who would take me in and love me unconditionally.  

First off, they were superheroes.  During my plebe year, they were “officially” sponsoring three girls from the class of 2015, and 2 more male midshipmen in the class of 2017.  And then when you add on the straggler (that’s me), other friends, and significant others, they were opening their home to over 10 of us.

However, I quickly began to form a very strong bond with the Pilcher family.  They had everything a homesick college kid could want: a lazy bulldog that cuddles with you, two young kids (Katie and Griffin, I love you guys), and an endless supply of Fruity Pebbles, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and every delicious cereal you could imagine.  

But it wasn’t what they could provide me that made me want to come back every weekend, it was who they were and how they cared for me that made me feel like part of their family.  

I belonged in their household.  I was wanted and loved, and I got to be an older brother again, and that’s always fun.

I swear Griffin likes me…

Over the course of four years, I spent more weekends at the Pilcher’s house than I can count.  They have been with me for my highest of highs, and also the lowest of lows.  I have shared holidays and celebrations with them, and have also been DEAD on their couch with the flu during Christmas break.  I have had endless conversations with Jen, my sponsor mom and founder of, about entrepreneurship and cyber security, and conversations with Ed, my sponsor dad, USNA grad and Naval pilot, about how much of a nerd I am for not being a pilot.  

I have had the amazing opportunity, and was so proud, to watch Katie in her Annapolis Christian performance of Annie.  But even better than that, I have gotten to play the role of big brother and intimidate any young suitors who attempt to talk to my little sister.  And last but not least, I have played endless hours of Mario Kart and Pacman with Griffin.  

Simply put, I have been given another family, and for that I am so thankful and truly appreciative.

Ed and Jen have been instrumental in my life and my development, and I am so blessed that they accepted me into their family.  An Ed Pilcher hug will instantly turn your mood around, and I have needed my fair share of those hugs over my time at the Academy.  And while Ed jokingly disagrees with my service selection (Cryptological Warfare), he and Jen have always taken care of me and treated me like a son.  

At graduation, I had the honor of Ed putting on my Ensign shoulder boards, which his old self previously wore as an Ensign about 100 years ago.  

I am the luckiest person in the world to have gone with James that weekend and met the Pilcher Family.  I love them to death and they will always be family to me.  So if the sponsor meet and greet didn’t go well, don’t stress, because it may just work out in the end.

What’d I tell you about those Ed Pilcher hugs?

Along the way, you may even pick up extra sponsor families. I had the good fortune of meeting another teammate’s sponsor parents, Marcie and Ted, who took great care of me as well. They invited me into their home, took me out to dinner, and even spoiled my entire family by taking us out on their boat during Commissioning Week to watch the Blue Angels. Thank you guys so much. Sponsor Families are simply AMAZING!

I’d love for you all to share your sponsor stories with me on my facebook page or send me an email [email protected]. I’d love to hear them, and I hope your plebes have an experience like I did.

If you have official questions about the sponsor program, please reach out to Rose Clark, USNA Sponsor Coordinator
Phone: 410-293-7031
E-mail: [email protected]