Coach Cody Gray stands proudly with Bloomingdale lacrosse players Simeon Rate, Ryan Mothershed Cases and Lelyn Kirby, who are heading to the U.S. service academies.

“If everyone is thinking alike, then someone isn’t thinking,” said George S. Patton, one of the best-known American generals in World War II. His words mean that if every person is thinking the same, then every person is just a follower.

Ryan Mothershed Cases, Lelyn Kirby and Simeon Rate are leaders. They are all captains on the Bloomingdale High School lacrosse team. They also have all accepted prestigious appointments to U.S. service academies. Cases and Kirby will attend the United States Naval Academy. Rate will attend the United States Air Force Academy.

Bloomingdale’s lacrosse coach, Cody Gray, said it is very rare to find the leadership qualities they possess as high school athletes. They lead by example and exude accountability.

“They’ve demonstrated immense accountability in both holding themselves accountable, but even more importantly their teammates. This can bring a lot of confrontation to the table if done incorrectly. However, I trusted them both seasons as their coach to do so in a radically candid manner. They cared personally, but also challenged their teammates directly. This balance is extremely hard to accomplish even for some of the best leaders in the world,” Gray said.

All three students had different reasons for applying to the academies. Cases will be fourth-generation military, Rate’s dad and brother attended the Air Force Academy and Kirby felt the Naval Academy would give him tools for success to help others.

The desire to serve is what will continue to make them good leaders.

“Growing up, I knew that no matter what I did after high school, I wanted to serve others,” said Rate.

“What inspired me to apply to the academy is my desire to do good and give back to my country,” said Kirby.

“Having received the appointment, I know that I’m no longer doing things for me but for those around me because everything is not about me at this point, it’s about us,” said Cases.

According to Gray, their combination of leading by example with effective communication led players to follow. Simply put, he said, they are an inspiration for others and will have a huge impact on our county for years to come.

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