By Sgt. Gaelen LowersFebruary 1, 2012
WAIKIKI, Hawaii -- Every year, on the first Wednesday of February, is the first day that a high school senior can sign a binding National Letter of Intent for college football with a school that is a member of the NCAA, the main governing body for college sports in the United States.
This year, the state of Hawaii celebrated one of its own, Kyle Fleming, by watching him make the decision to sign with the United States Military Academy at West Point at the Sheraton Hotel in Waikiki, Feb. 1.
Fleming, a middle linebacker for Waimea High School in Waimea, on the island of Kauai, Hawaii, had his choice of several schools including: Colorado School of Mines, Montana Tech, University of Hawaii, Stetson University out of Florida and Bentley University out of Massachusetts. But, after all was said and done from a recruiting standpoint, he chose to join the distinguished 1,000 or so cadets that are accepted into the academy.
"Coach [Payam Saadat, co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach] flew out and stuck with me the whole time," said Fleming.
Although it was personal attention that Fleming received from Coach Saadat that was the biggest influence in his decision, the trip to the campus was what really made up his mind and put ink to paper, he continued.
"I took the trip out there last weekend and that is what really opened my eyes to what West Point is all about athletically and academically," said Fleming.
The United States Military Academy at West Point is renowned as one of the world's preeminent leader development institutions. Its mission is to educate, train, and inspire the Corps of Cadets so that each graduate is a commissioned leader of character committed to the values of duty, honor, and country. The student body, or Corps of Cadets, numbers 4,400 and each year approximately 1,000 cadets join the Long Gray Line as they graduate and are commissioned as second lieutenants in the U.S. Army.
"We're very proud of him and his accomplishments, leadership and character," said Allison Toma, mother to Fleming. "That is what brought him to this point in his life. I believe West Point is a good institution. Not only will he get a good education but also build character."
Fleming said that he was looking forward to the opportunity to join the ranks of its famous alumni: Buzz Aldrin, astronaut; Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Medal of Honor recipient; as well as many other historical figures.
"I'm very excited," Fleming said. "It's a big step. I feel a little overwhelmed but extremely honored. Me, a little guy from the island of Kauai, will be going to West Point and having this opportunity."
Fleming has made a 5-year commitment to the Army after his West Point graduation, but hasn't quite decide what direction he wants to take his military career.
"I was initially looking at the Corps. of Engineers, but I never realized that there were so many choices, so I will have to really look everything over and decided what fits me best."