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From Cadet to Eagle: An Officer’s Journey to the USA Rugby National Team

Category: Grad News
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Growing up in Thousand Oaks, California, not many people knew about the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

CPT Jacob Lachina ’18 was one of the few who did. From a young age, mentors in his life told him he should contemplate attending.

“Once I got some background on the school, it was the only goal I really had,” Lachina said. “Throughout junior high, and high school, my mind was just on getting to West Point.”

Lachina received an appointment in 2014. He initially wanted to play basketball, but he discovered rugby later in his plebe year.

“I was offered a walk-on tryout for the academy team for basketball,” he said. “I figured that a basketball schedule wouldn’t jive with what I wanted to do, and it would be tough to visit family, so I attended a trial for rugby.”

Lachina fell in love with rugby, and it fueled his love for the Army even more. Rugby became a Division I sport at Army in his plebe year, and athletes were given the privileges of an NCAA sport, even though rugby was not yet sanctioned by the NCAA.

Through his years at West Point, Lachina started garnering attention from the USA Rugby National Team. As a plebe, he was named an honorable mention All-American. In his sophomore year, he became an All-American. He was later invited to attend a national team camp, which was an opportunity granted to him from his leadership at West Point. He remained on Team USA’s radar throughout the remainder of his college career, making early sacrifices to be able to train and compete.

After turning down opportunities with rugby to focus on his military career, Lachina attended Basic Officer Leader Course at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and was stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, serving as the assistant training officer (S3). With rugby still on his mind, Lachina made an agreement with his battalion commander in order to try out for the USA Rugby National Team: If he made the team, he’d be able to apply for the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program. If he didn’t, he’d attend U.S. Army Ranger School.

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