These are words that are posted on a plaque on the West Point football field that by ritual, every Army football player taps before heading out to battle on the football field. Being a part of the football team at the United States Military Academy at West Point is incomparable to any other college football team across the country. There is no “Underwater Basketweaving” easy-to-just slide through classes. They are taking classes named “Computational Design in Nuclear Engineering” and “Advanced International Relations”. “PE” is military endurance training, which includes a 15-mile long foot march with all load bearing gear, military helmet, a 35 pound runsack and a weapon in tow. These kids are not being coddled and catered to like other big-time school athletes might be. They are pushed, torn down and built back up to ultimately lead and protect our country.
As an offensive line coach at the United States Military Academy, Stan Brock would tell his players following an injury “It’s a long way from the heart, right?!” Basically, “get up, dust yourself off and get back in there.” Seth Nieman was one of those players, one of those offensive lineman and one of those United States Military Academy cadets. Seth is a West Point graduate, served as a Combat Engineer during two deployments to Iraq, and was selected to become a Special Forces officer with the Green Berets. He deployed to Afghanistan as a Special Forces Team Leader, and was hit with an IED during operations. He lost his right leg below the knee and suffered numerous wounds throughout his body. As soon as Seth was transferred to Walter Reed Medical Center after the explosion, his coach, Stan Brock, went to visit him. As Seth opened his eyes and saw Stan standing there he looked up at him and said, “It’s ok Coach, it’s a long way from the heart!” Stan assured him that this was not one of those moments and it was at that instant,looking around at these men and women, these kids, who are putting their lives on the line every day to protect our country, he knew that he needed to do something. And that was the beginning of the Black and Gold Classic..
Seth has gone through more than 20 surgeries, and continues his recovery. But his work is not yet done.He has reached his initial goal of gaining his Masters degree and is now an instructor at West Point. Seth Nieman is the reason the Black and Gold Classic was started and why we give to the Green Berets and other military foundations. This is so close to our hearts and why we take such pride and passion in our events to raise money to help these soldiers and their families, soldiers just like Seth.