By Michelle Caceres

While many high school seniors are still waiting to hear about college acceptances, Newsome student Josh Costlow has accepted a much-coveted appointment to the United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA).

The USMMA, also called Kings Point, is one of five U.S. service academies and is located in Kings Point, New York, approximately 20 miles east of New York City. The Merchant Marine is the fleet of ships which carries imports and exports during peacetime and becomes a naval auxiliary during wartime to deliver troops and war material.

Costlow learned about this oft-overlooked school after attending a Naval Academy leadership and baseball camp last year. He was scouted by the USMMA’s baseball coach, who contacted him the following week with an offer to play baseball for the school.
For Costlow, who has been playing baseball for more than 12 years, his dream of playing at the college level and serving his country (his grandfather graduated from the Naval Academy) was within reach, barring one major hurdle.

“The coach told me I could play for them but I would have to get an appointment to the school based on my academics,” said Costlow.

Before he could apply to the Academy, he needed to earn a nomination from a U.S. congressman. He filled out an application for appointment by U.S. Representative Dennis Ross and was granted an interview by his advisory board.

“The board seemed impressed that I was an Eagle Scout,” said Costlow, who was given an appointment by Ross.

After the appointment, Costlow completed the lengthy service academy application, complete with transcript, letters of recommendation and essay. Candidates must also complete a fitness assessment and medical exam.

Nothing could prepare him for the flood of emotions upon learning he had earned an appointment to the Academy. “In a short time I went from not even knowing the school existed to not only being admitted but being given the opportunity to play college baseball as well,” he said. “I’m excited to start the next chapter of my life.”

Known for its rigorous academic program, USMMA requires more credit hours for a baccalaureate degree than any other service academy. Coursework is augmented by the Academy’s Sea year experience, which gives midshipmen the hands-on experience aboard working commercial vessels sailing to ports around the world. Upon graduation, midshipmen earn a Bachelor of Science degree, a U.S. Coast Guard license and an officer’s commission in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Costlow, who will major in Engineering, will have a service obligation upon graduation but will be able to select from options such as a ship’s officer at sea, ashore in the maritime transportation field or as an active-duty officer in one of the Armed Forces.
He reports to the Academy on June 26.

His father, Christian Costlow, says his son has applied himself for years to working hard and improving his knowledge and skills while balancing his commitment to his faith. “This is his first reward,” said the proud parent.

For more information about USMMA visit

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Michelle Caceres
MIchelle Caceres has been writing for the Osprey Observer for seventeen years. She enjoys writing human interest pieces about inspiring members of the community who are working to better our community. She lives in FishHawk Ranch with her husband and recently became an empty-nester. When not writing, Michelle is serving her church community, reading and enjoying Florida's weather.