DON KETCHUM is a native of Phoenix. He was a sportswriter for The Arizona Republic/The Phoenix Gazette for nearly four decades. He covered high school sports on several occasions as well as the Arizona Diamondbacks, Arizona Cardinals and Arizona State sports. From 2008-14, he was a staff writer for, the web site of the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

Monday, May 6, 2019

XCP seniors to begin journey at U.S. Naval Academy

On Aug. 8, 1975, the U.S. Congress authorized women to be able to attend military service academies.

From that point, it was full steam ahead for candidates hoping to receive an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. In 1980, the USNA had 81 women graduates for the first time, and Elizabeth Anne Belzer was the first.

Flash forward to 2023, when the list of female graduates is expected to be between 300 and 400 out of a total of about 1,200. And two 2019 graduates from Xavier College Preparatory are planning to be a part of that group that will toss its hats into the air.

Alyssa Largay and Eve Worden received appointments from Arizona’s Congressional delegation that led to a presentation from a Naval officer at the recent XCP Awards Assembly.
Xavier seniors Alyssa Largay, left, and Eve Worden, right, flank U.S. Navy Lt. Commander Michael Lanin after receiving their appointments to the U.S. Naval Academy (Photo by Don Ketchum).
It is quite an accomplishment for one graduate to head to Annapolis, but to have two from the same school in the same year earn such an honor is all the more impressive.

“I have been doing this (interacting with appointees) for about four years now, and it is very rare to have two in one cycle (graduation),’’ said Lt. Commander Michael Lanin, looking sharp in his dress whites. “We know these young women have worked hard to get to this point, but there is a lot of work ahead.’’

Largay and Worden will be participating in intercollegiate athletics at the USNA, Largay as a diver and Worden as a golfer.

They will report to Annapolis, near Washington D.C. and Baltimore, Md., on the shore of Chesapeake Bay, on June 27. That’s when their lives will change forever, beginning with the annual Plebe (freshman) Summer, consisting of seven weeks of initiation and training.

The USNA Web site tells these newbies to be ready.

“By the time you throw your hat into the air at graduation, you are fully prepared to be a leader of competence, character, compassion and ready to take on the world.’’

In return for their commitment, the Midshipmen receive room and board, a modest monthly stipend, and medical and dental care. At graduation, they must begin five years of active duty in the U.S. Navy or U.S. Marine Corps.

“It is a big level of commitment for us. I have always wanted to be able to serve my country,’’ said Largay.

Said Worden: “I am extremely excited but there is a lot of nervousness. I think it is going to be a great journey.’’

Largay’s appointment came from the office of Arizona Congressman David Schweikert and Worden’s came from former Arizona Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema, before she became a U.S. Senator.

Largay’s patriotism stems in part from her time as an intern in the office of late Arizona Senator John McCain.

“He told me a lot about the U.S. Naval Academy (McCain was a graduate) and that always stuck in my mind as something I would like to try,’’ she said.

Worden has a family history of graduates from military academies. Her maternal grandfather graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y.

The girls had sisters who were athletes at Xavier and went on to prestigious collegiate institutions.

Kristen Largay (volleyball) went to American University in Washington, D.C., and Lily Worden (golf) went to Amherst College in Amherst, Mass.

Family support in general, particularly from parents, has been crucial through the process.

Alyssa Largay and Eve Worden said many of the things they learned at Xavier will be a part of the success they will achieve at the USNA.

“I learned a lot about time management, communication and good leadership skills,’’ Largay said.

“Being associated with clubs and organizations, just interacting with all of the students will be very helpful,’’ Worden said.

And don’t forget Xavier sports.

“It helps your resume all the way around,’’ Largay said.

“It is going to be pretty crazy, but it will be really exciting,’’ Worden said.

Soon, the young women’s music playlists will feature Anchors Aweigh.

U.S. Naval Academy facts and figures

Source: USNA Web site

What is needed for a candidate to be appointed . . .

1 – Confirm eligibility. 2 – Preliminary application. 3 – Apply for nomination. 4 – College entrance exams. 5 – Grade transcript. 6 – Medical exam. 7 – Fitness Assessment. 8 – Interview with Blue/Gold officer. 8 – Keep track of all deadlines.

Make sure to prepare for the tough weekday schedule . . .

5:30 a.m. – Arise for personal fitness workout (optional). 6:30 a.m. – Reveille (all hands out of bed). 6:30-7 a.m. – Special introduction period for Plebes (freshmen). 7:15 a.m. – Morning meal. 7:55-11:45 a.m. – Four class periods, 50 minutes each. 12:10 p.m. – Noon meal. 12:50-1:20 p.m. – Company training time. 1:20-3:30 p.m. – Fifth and sixth class periods. 3:45-6 p.m. – Varsity and intramural athletics. Personal activities, drills and parades twice weekly in the fall and spring. 6:30-7:15 p.m. – Evening meal. 8-11 p.m. – Study period. Midnight – Taps for all Midshipmen.


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