OSHKOSH, Wis. - For West Point Cadet Shane Woolwine, playing football has taught him the value of teamwork and leadership unlike any other mode of influence.
"I have been able to transfer these leadership principles into my everyday life at West Point and I will continue to demonstrate them as an officer in the U.S. Army," said the third year cadet who also plays free safety with the Army Black Knights at the U.S. Military Academy.
Woolwine spoke to coaches, players and family members during a banquet before the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association (WFCA) All-Star Game July 18 at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.
He said he believes that football has been a major factor in his success both on and off the field. He has learned that the Army's core values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage correspond to the winning values of the same sport.
"Both (the military and football) are physically and emotionally demanding and both require a great amount of personal commitment and sacrifice," said Woolwine.
The cadet's invitation to speak to the select players and high school football coaches was part of the U.S. Army Recruiting Battalion Milwaukee's partnership with the WFCA.
During the all-star game July 19, football players were introduced on midfield as they ran through an Army tunnel. Maj. Michael Sheehan, the battalion's executive officer, provided a unit coin as part of the ceremonial coin toss. The team captains, head coaches and referees also received coins to commemorate the Army's partnership with the event.
Adding flair to the opening ceremony, three parachutists dropped into the field to deliver the game's football, fly the U.S. Army logo banner and the U.S. flag. Staff Sgt. Nathan Froese, a recruiter with Manitowoc Recruiting Station, sang the national anthem at the start of the game and performed Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the U.S.A." during the half-time.
He said the Army's involvement in the event was great exposure because it associates the Army with a fun community event.
"It shows that we are not just recruiters, but also members of the community who support high school sports," Froese said. "I hope it sends the community members a message that we (Soldiers) are also a part of them."
Dan Brunner, past president of the WFCA, said the Army's participation added tremendously to the atmosphere of the game.
"The all-star games have always been good but this (experience) has raised the bar," Brunner said. "It makes the game more patriotic."