CLAREMONT, Calif. — While most graduating college seniors are going to take a break this summer until they enter their chosen profession, Coast Guard Cadet First Class Trevor Siperek won’t have that luxury.
Shortly after the conclusion of the Division III Track and Field Championships, Siperek will be reporting for duty at Alameda Island (near Oakland, Calif.) on the 370-foot U.S. Coast Guard Cutter — Morgenthau.
For the next two years, Siperek will be working with the engineering systems of the high endurance vessel, learning everything from the engine room to the sanitation systems.
“I am very excited to be stationed where I am and I am looking forward to the challenge,” Siperek said. “Something the Academy teaches you is to have a positive attitude and usually things work out.”
Before he reports however, he has one more mission to complete, an assignment he has worked four years to finish and is seeing the benefits of his dedication. Siperek runs the 3,000-meter steeplechase for the Coast Guard Academy and on Friday he qualified for a spot in Saturday’s finals.
“I owe a lot to my coach, Jeff Morin,” Siperek said. “He really put in the time and worked with me I don’t think I would be here if it wasn’t for him.
Don’t let Siperek fool you, it was his dedication that got him here, Coast Guard head coach Ethan Brown said.
“This year he came in very determined and willing to work hard to get to the championships,” Brown said. “I think coming into the season we all had expectations for him, but I think he has gone above and beyond that. Not just athletically but as the team captain.”
Ironic, since Siperek never competed in the Steeplechase until he arrived at the Coast Guard Academy four years ago.
“In high school my coach suggested I look into the steeplechase when I got to college,” Siperek said. “He felt that might be an event that might be a good niche for me. It’s not available in high schools in California.”
So unprepared was Siperek that he had to borrow steeplechase track shoes from a teammate for the first meet. His first experience in the event, wasn’t ideal.
“They were very old and I was approaching the barrier and my foot caught just right and I fell down and it ripped my spike and my whole heel came out of the spikes,” Siperek said. “So I had my heel out of the spike and finished the last 300 meters of the race with my heel sticking out of the spike. I got my own spikes after that.”
That experience didn’t lessen his passion for the event and Siperek found that if the rigors of the academy didn’t break him, nothing would.
Cadets days are rigorously structured. They are awakened at 6 a.m. and get breakfast. An hour of military training follows and then morning classes before lunch. After the meal afternoon classes go until 4 p.m. While non-athletes have that time to do homework, Siperek and his teammates were at practice for two hours. Dinner followed and then homework was done, sometimes not getting finished until 2 a.m.
“I don’t have the experiences of a normal college student such as partying and drinking or only having classes in the afternoon,” Siperek said. “That is obviously different and it is a very structured environment but I think it was a good experience for me.”
It was four years he will cherish, not only for the track team, but all of his time at the academy.
“I would do it again in a heartbeat,” Siperek said. “The big reason is I’ve made lifelong friends I can’t explain the bond you get when you go through the Academy. Granted it’s stressful and it has its ups and downs but it is a worthwhile experience and it creates these unique networks and friendships that I think are going to last a long time.”