June 23, 2017
Andrew Walsh is a people person and he will take those people skills to the United States Naval Academy when he reports this coming week.
"I don’t know what career I want to pursue," said Walsh, a 2017 Badin High School grad, "but I know I want to do what I can to help people."
Walsh, the son of Tim and Teri Walsh of Hamilton, was named the Stephen T. Badin medal winner as the most outstanding member of the class "by every measure." He was a Top 10 academic student, the starting quarterback on the football team as a senior, and an outfielder on the Badin baseball team that was the Division II state runner-up in 2016.
He was well known as a student who cared.
"That’s why you earn something like the Stephen T. Badin medal," said Brion Treadway, Walsh’s guidance counselor and the Rams’ head baseball coach. "Andrew stood out in every way possible. He’s a class act, and the Navy got a quality young man."
Walsh started thinking about the service academies as a 7th grader at Queen of Peace School in Millville, and got serious about it as a sophomore at Badin.
"You see a lot of things on the news, the various crises that keep arising around the world," Walsh said. "I wanted to do something about that. Everybody has an opportunity to do things, but I had to think about what I wanted to do – not for one person but for groups of people. The service academies seemed like a good fit for me and that goal."
Of course, being admitted to one of the four United States service academies – Navy, Army, Air Force or Coast Guard – is an incredibly competitive challenge. But Walsh was not only appointed to the Naval Academy in Annapolis., Md., but also to the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., a remarkable "double."
"The whole process was a beast," Walsh nodded. "I had so many applications going just to get a nomination (the first requirement). And I was working on other college applications as well in case I didn’t get in to an academy."
Walsh remembers walking into his first nomination interview through the office of U.S. Senator Rob Portman. He expected to sit down with one person. Instead, there were four top ranking officers around a table, waiting to chat with him.
"It was very intimidating," Walsh said. "There were four generals there, but the way my mind was going, it seemed like there were 10."
Walsh, working with his father, had put together numerous index cards of answers to questions he expected to be asked. There was no natural flow to it. Finally, his father had simply pointed out to him that all of the candidates were 17-years-old, the interviewers understood that they were bound to be nervous, and just to relax and be yourself.
"He just said to think about what I wanted to tell them about myself and my view of things," Walsh said. "That’s what I tried to do. I’m sure in many ways going through that difficult interview process has helped me a lot."
Ironically, Walsh learned that he had been nominated to both the Naval Academy and West Point the day of the Army-Navy football game in December. That was certainly a memorable day. Then, it was just a matter of seeing if and where he would be admitted. Walsh will join some 1,200 plebes in the Class of 2021 at the Naval Academy this week.
He liked the Navy because it "offers the most career opportunities. I’m a little indecisive about exactly what I want to do, so the Naval Academy will enable me to keep my horizons open a little longer.
"There is such a team aspect to the Navy," he added. "The goals they pursue are for the greater good. There are lots of chances in the Navy to help the people who need it. That really appeals to me."
In a talk to the Hamilton Rotary Club earlier this year, Walsh told the members, "If Badin High School has taught me one thing … it’s that the most valuable opportunities aren’t the ones that bring us fame or fortune, but rather, they are the ones that bring us face-to-face with other human beings."
The way he was taught to measure himself in high school, Walsh added in his talk, was "not based on the grades I get, or the number of football games I win, but by the number of strangers I invite to sit at my lunch table, underclassmen I say hello to in the hallway, and the smiles on the faces of my classmates. I’ve got one life to change as many others as I can."
"Andrew Walsh has been a great representative of Badin High School and will continue to represent himself, his family and his school to a high degree in the Navy," BHS Principal Brian Pendergest said. "It’s really difficult to get into a service academy, and Andrew will take advantage of the opportunities presented. He brings a lot to the table. He’ll bring a lot to our country."
"By no means is this something I have achieved on my own," Walsh underlined. "My parents, my friends, Badin High School have all been so supportive and encouraging. I’m very grateful for all of the people who have helped me.
"This is a great opportunity for me to use my talents to give back," Walsh added. "Just as long as I know I’m helping someone, I know I’ll be fine."
Contact: Dirk Q. Allen, (513) 863-3993, ext. 120; Dallen@BadinHS.org