Since time immemorial, many customs and traditions of the Roman Empire have stood the test of time, finding its way into the time-honored traditions of the United States Military.
One such tradition is the concept of a Centurion, a rank bestowed to skilled Roman soldiers who proved themselves unmatched in skill, combat prowess, and steadfast devotion to military service.
Thousands of years later, the Centurion pinning was created, where ancient tradition meets contemporary excellence, in the storied halls of the U.S. Military Academy.
Commandant of the Corps of Cadets, Brig. Gen. Lori Robinson, presented Centurion Pins to 17 captains of Cadet Competitive Club sports, continuing a time-honored legacy at the academy that began 14 years ago.
The year was 2009 when retired Maj. Gen. William Rapp, a distinguished 1984 USMA graduate who once held the position of the 72nd Commandant of the Corps of Cadets, breathed life into the Centurion Pin ceremony. His vision was clear—to honor and celebrate the remarkable achievements and relentless commitment of those who led the charge as captains of competitive club teams.
Captains are challenged with embodying Gen. Douglas MacArthur's timeless words, "On the fields of friendly strife are sown the seeds that on other days and other fields will bear the fruits of victory."
This year, 17 cadets embodied the spirit of that quote, leaving their lasting mark in the annals of West Point history, showcasing the mindset of a Centurion.
"It took four years of hard work to become a team captain, however, all of it can't be accomplished alone. Learning to identify the people who lift you up, challenge you, and improve you is essential to tackling any challenge," said Cadet William Kaiser, Class of 2024 and team captain of the Judo club.
Kaiser added that this accomplishment has motivated him and the rest of his team to continue to exceed in their endeavors at West Point and beyond.
"We see ourselves excelling in all places at the academy, and this is no different," Kaiser said. "Next, I hope to lead my team to victory at the Morris Cup, in New Jersey as we compete in Judo with other high-caliber athletes."
While receiving the Centurion pin acknowledges the cadets and their esteemed accomplishments in their respective clubs, the biggest takeaway for Cadet Timothy Greenhouse, Class of 2025 and captain of the Climbing team, is how each team member plays an important role in sustaining relentless devotion and unwavering commitment to improvement.
"It is incredibly motivating to receive the pin," Greenhouse said. "I am honored to be able to lead the team that had such a huge impact on my development as an underclassman and is still developing me to this day."
"Now that I am captain, my next goal is to lead the team well this academic year," he added. "We’ll compete with Air Force and Navy toward the end of this semester, and the whole team wants a couple more stars on their black jackets."
With no prior experience, Greenhouse joined the climbing team during his plebe year, learning how to climb by stages and relishing each profound experience he had leading up to this milestone.
" ... There was a steep learning curve, but I’ve never seen it as hard work," Greenhouse said. "Practice was and still is the best part of my day."
The qualities that enliven the spirit of the Centurion mindset are cultivated at the academy, prepping cadets for a career in military service. Thus, the leadership roles bestowed to cadets provide the opportunity to execute missions, learn from mistakes and refine leadership skills that will be used to lead the nation.
"Taking on the role of captain has taught me a great deal about my own abilities and leadership skills," Greenhouse concluded. "The leadership development I am experiencing now will hopefully pay dividends for the rest of my time here at West Point as I prepare to head out into the big Army."
List of the 2023 Centurion Pin recipients:
Student-Athlete Coordinator - Trenton Douthwaite '24
Boxing (M) - Caleb Lagestee '24
Boxing (W) - Sharnae Harmon ‘24
Climbing (Competitive) - Timothy Greenhouse ‘25
Crew - Sandli Singh ‘24
Cycling - Garrett Chrisman ‘24
Fencing - Kaylee Laporte ‘24
Judo - William Kaiser ‘24
Marathon - Jake Pinuelas ‘24
Orienteering - Gregory Kies ‘24
Powerlifting - Katherine Hebert ‘24
Team Handball (M) - Mark Miller ‘24
Team Handball (W) - Sarah Fazzolari ‘24
Triathlon - Adler Brininger ‘24
Volleyball - Thomas Killeen‘24
Water Polo - Jorden Corpuz ‘24
Functional Fitness - Dawson Stec ‘24