Stories of Impact

Hugate ’24: Connecting the Corps Through Keydet Sports Network

Carter Hugate ’24


For Cadet Carter Hugate ’24, VMI offered the perfect mix of everything he was looking for: A chance to commission into the military, strong academics, and a brotherhood like no other. Now, just a few short weeks away from graduation, Hugate can’t imagine what his life would have been like if he’d gone to any other school.

Hugate, a civil engineering major who plans to commission into the U.S. Army, is juggling multiple roles this year: S9 captain, a support role covering both NCAA athletics and club sports; Company C executive officer; Army ROTC cadre member; and combat shooting team member.

“It’s a lot on my plate,” Hugate acknowledged. “But, in my opinion, being busy at VMI is way better than not having anything to do at all. [There are] days when I’m overwhelmed … but when you accomplish these tasks, and you know that you’re doing it, and your staff’s doing it, and you’re leading that staff to get things done, that’s way more rewarding than sitting in your room. … When I get out of here, when I join the Army, I’ll be prepared to lead a platoon, lead a staff, just because I have that experience here.”

Hugate’s path to VMI began with friends who’d chosen the Institute—and as a native of the Richmond, Virginia, area, he knew several members of the Corps of Cadets before he matriculated. Even his dyke was a longtime family friend. An Army ROTC scholarship helped guide Hugate’s choice, as well. “God’s plan kind of worked out that way,” Hugate noted. “So, I knew my dyke coming in, knew a bunch of people. Plus, I wanted to go into the military. So, it was just a perfect path, perfect segue, into what I want to do in my life.”

In August 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hugate and his brother rats matriculated. Not surprisingly, social distancing and other pandemic-related restrictions made the already challenging Rat Line even more so. “COVID really, really screwed up a lot of things,” he acknowledged. “So, for example, our Rat Line had an admin week, which was basically a week prior to Hell Week. And that was really boring and also really time-consuming—stressful—because we weren’t in the actual Rat Line [yet]. But it helped because my dyke was also the S9 captain at the time, so he kind of was doing what I do with my rats, kind of walking around and checking on me.”

“When I get out of here, when I join the Army, I’ll be prepared to lead a platoon, lead a staff, just because I have that experience here.”

Carter Hugate ’24

Three years later, Hugate took the position his dyke had occupied: S9 captain, a role meant to help unite the Corps with support for all athletic endeavors, both for NCAA and club sports, plus company athletics for rats. “Just getting that Corps morale up through sports is what our biggest thing is,” Hugate commented.

As a member of the S9 staff, Hugate has been instrumental in finding a new way to showcase the accomplishments of both NCAA and club sports athletes. He created the Keydet Sports Network, an ESPN-style video presentation that highlights many kinds of athletic achievements. He’d done something similar in high school, but at VMI, he found a much higher level of support and resources for this undertaking. “So, I kind of tried to branch out and made a YouTube channel, made everything that I would possibly need, basically gave the people who I was pitching it to no reasons to turn me down,” he explained. “So, we do postgame, pregame interviews; we do specials; we do kind of fun games on there. It’s worked a lot—a lot of people have positive feedback on it.”

Recognition is at the heart of KEYSN’s mission. “There’s a lot of humble people here at VMI,” said Hugate. “And they don’t feel like they need the recognition. But when you see how much work the athletes put in and how much the Corps doesn’t know about that work that they put in. … The whole point of KEYSN is to go to practices, videotape [athletes] working their tails off, just for the Corps to see that, for teachers to see that, for families to see that, is really the main goal.”

Academically, Hugate has found his niche as a civil engineering major. He’d been building things his entire life and, in high school, had worked for a company installing in-ground swimming pools, so the major seemed a natural fit. “It’s been everything [I] expected and hoped it would be—all the civil engineering professors are the best I’ve ever had,” he stated. “They take care of you. My class sizes aren’t too big, which is really nice.”

Leaving VMI at graduation, he admits, will be much harder than making the decision to attend. “Some of the best friends I’ve ever had are here with me, as well,” said Hugate. “So, if I went anywhere else, I 100% wouldn’t have made the friends as close [as those] I have here, and that’s going to carry us a lifetime.”

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