It is amazing how long ago that the Navy men’s track team was dismissed from this League. It was 2003. So no one competing in the League now was even 10 years old then.
I was at Indoor Heps at Dartmouth that year and I remember seeing Al Cantello, a long-time coach at Navy, come in the door at Leverone. He was ashen. Just a month before — 14 years ago today — the Columbia Space Shuttle came apart in its return to Houston. One of his former runners, Willie McCool, was on board.
I had become friendly with Coach Cantello over the few years, often joking with him at the championships. But I knew I didn’t have the words when I saw him, so we shared pleasantries and avoided eye contact.
I was reminded of Coach Cantello and Willie McCool today when this story showed up on my Facebook feed. I couldn’t believe it had been 14 years. People need to be reminded of the amazing men and women from both the U.S. Military and Naval Academies who had a home in the league. Coach Cantello admits that McCool wasn’t the “Second Coming” or anything, but he was someone very special.
Please take a moment to read about him.