Delta football coach Grant Zgunda doesn’t have much first-hand knowledge of the United States Military Academy. But when Zgunda envisions the students at West Point, he imagines people similar to the center on his 2012 squad, senior Brendan Gill.
“Things you read about, you see on TV, if you have this picture in your mind of what a West Point cadet is, it’s all the things that Brendan encompasses,” Zgunda said. “Just hard work, gritty, doesn’t seem to get unraveled emotionally. He’s always fairly calm, even in the most intense situations. Committed, loyal, just all the things that come to mind, he’s all of it.”
Zgunda might be on to something.
Gill was recently accepted to West Point and plans to enroll there, the culmination of a process that began during his junior year and required him to seek a Congressional Nomination, among other obstacles.
Gill has had a long-running interest in the military, and said his father first introduced him to the possibility of going to the academy, located in West Point, N.Y., when he was in middle school. He remembers his father then showed him some websites and videos about the academy, which only strengthened his interest.
When it came to apply to colleges, Gill dropped in a few other applications to give himself other options if he didn’t get accepted to West Point. He applied to Notre Dame and Purdue as well, but once he received word that he had been admitted to West Point, the other two schools went on the backburner.
Gill remembers when he got his acceptance packet in late February. He had recently returned from a visit to the academy, where he’d gotten word that letters were being sent out.
“My mom kind of freaked out, and I was like, ‘Well, we don’t know what it is yet,’ ” Gill said. “I don’t know, I seemed to be really calm about it, but when I finally opened it, it was pretty emotional.”
Gill, who was also a semi-state qualifying wrestler at Delta, said he didn’t apply to other service academies, only to West Point. He said the Army’s focus of getting on the ground to provide aid appealed to him, seeing himself as someone suited for that role.
He said his eventual career plan is to get a doctorate and become a research scientist, a career which could involve remaining in the military or leaving the service.
The Delta senior has received positive responses when he’s told others he plans to attend West Point. Some people tell him they have connections to the academy, mentioning friends or relatives who graduated from there. But some of the conversations get awkward.
“Sometimes people thank me for my service, which I find confusing because I haven’t served yet, and I’m going to be taking their taxpayer dollars to get a free education,” Gill said. “But a lot of people just say that I must be very proud or wish me luck.”