One Lake Wylie family has some serious bragging rights.
Clover High School senior Blake Watson, 18, son of Stan and Stacy Watson, has received an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point – one of the top military academies in the world.
His older brother Brady, 21, is currently a midshipman at the United States Naval Academy, another of the country’s most prestigious military colleges.
Both young men will receive a tuition free education valued at nearly half a million dollars. And a rivalry dating back centuries to boot.
“(Blake’s) brother was home (for) spring break and that’s when the trash talking started,” said mom Stacy Watson.
Dad, Stan, said people have asked him which team he is going to pull for when Army plays Navy.
“I’m from Tennessee,” he said. “I tell people, I’m just going to wear orange on that day.”
The admissions process for the academies is lengthy and rigorous – only about 10 percent of applicants are accepted – and candidates must receive a nomination from a U.S. senator or congressman for consideration. Blake received former Congressman and now Trump administration budget director Mick Mulvaney’s principal nomination, as well as a nomination from Senator Tim Scott.
In addition to West Point, Blake was accepted to The University of Tennessee, Auburn University, The Citadel and The Virginia Military Institute.
“My passion for the military started listening to my grandfather’s stories,” Blake said.
But it was watching his older brother that set his heart on West Point.
“When I saw (Brady) take oath, that’s when I knew,” Blake said. “I decided to carve my own path and head towards the Army rather than the Navy, but I’ve always looked up to him as a role model. Everything that I’ve ever done has sort of been following him.”
Proud mom, Stacy, listened as her eyes began to water a bit. “You’re gonna make me cry,” she said. “I won’t tell him you said that.”
“Yeah, he’ll get a big head,” Blake said.
Blake will graduate May 25 from Clover High, where he played varsity football. He reports to West Point on July 3 for six and-a-half weeks of cadet training.
“They beat you down and prepare you for what your life’s going to be like,” said Blake, who plans to become a helicopter pilot. “It’s very demanding, physically and mentally.”
“I feel pretty confident Blake’s going to be alright,” Stacy said. “But I know how to send care packages.”
Now the Watsons prepare to send their youngest son off to chase his dream of attending the Academy and serving his country – just like they did with their oldest.
“It’s pretty special, from a father’s standpoint…to see the commitment that both sons have made,” Stan said. “The fact that I have two boys going to academies – to have them there at the same time – is unbelievable.”
“Never in my wildest dreams did I ever expect to be that blessed. Wow…proud doesn’t even begin to describe it,” Stacy said.
Kelly Lessard: firstname.lastname@example.org, @KellyLessardFMT