To acknowledge the alumni, family, and friends who give to the annual and endowed scholarships that support VMI’s cadet-athletes—those young people who pursue excellence by representing the Institute at the highest level of college sports, NCAA Division I, as well as in the classroom and the barracks—the VMI Keydet Club held its annual Scholarship Banquet May 1 in Marshall Hall. More than 375 people, including cadet-athletes, donors, fund representatives, and special guests, attended the event, the first since 2019.
Opening what he described as “a special evening … that brings together our cadet-athletes with some of our most engaged and supportive alumni, family, and friends,” Andrew C. Deal ’12, of Keydet Club chief operating officer, who played baseball and “had the privilege of being a recipient of a Keydet Club scholarship,” described the Keydet Club as “a special organization … of high spirit, passion, and love for VMI athletics.” He shared that, in the current year, it provides more than $6 million in scholarship support to more than 280 cadet-athletes.
In his remarks, Maj. Gen. Cedric T. Wins ’85, superintendent, said, “It is no secret that the cost to maintain a Division I sports program requires a longterm commitment from all of us. We continue to invest in superb facilities, recruit and retain excellent coaches, and provide opportunities for great athletes [who] can excel in sports and as cadets.” He also thanked the Keydet Club’s leaders, whose service he described as “extremely important as we plan for the future of our sports programs. You help us meet our goal to provide for our talented athletes and help them compete at the highest level.”
A highlight of the banquet always is the presentation of the Three-Legged Stool Award. The term Three-Legged Stool was coined by Giles Miller, VMI Class of 1924, in reference to the Institute’s policy of educating “the whole person” through an education that balances academics, leadership development, and athletics.
This year’s recipient was Makenna Moore ’22. A mechanical engineering major (who also minors in applied mathematics and physics), Moore has played water polo for her entire cadetship. A team captain for two years, she has received the All-America Collegiate Water Polo Association’s Outstanding All-Academic Award and was named to the Virginia Sports Information Directors’ 2020-2021 All-Academic Team. The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference twice named Moore to its All-Academic Team. After graduation, she will attend the Navy’s Nuclear Power School and afterward join the Navy’s submarine community.
Ron Carter ’78 provided the evening’s keynote address, and he did not disappoint. “VMI shaped my life, career, character, and future in so many amazing and unforeseeable ways that merely saying thank you to VMI feels like a grossly adequate expression of my immense gratitude.”
Carter described how he became conscious early on that he was a descendant of Baseball Hall of Famer Josh Gibson, often described as the Babe Ruth of the Negro Leagues. “I learned at an early age,” said Carter, “about the responsibility that comes when commitment meets preparation and leads to competitive excellence.”
He also recounted how he was recruited to play basketball at VMI one day in the summer of 1974. Coaches Bill Blair ’64 and Charlie Schmaus ’66 came to Pittsburgh to see Carter play at a neighborhood recreation center. “While attempting a dunk I fell and broke my left wrist … Coach Blair and Coach Schmaus offered to take me to the hospital.” When they emerged outside the center, two of Carter’s friends were in the process of stealing the coaches’ car. “I was able to persuade my career criminal friends to give Coach his car back so they could take me to the emergency room. En route to the hospital, I was offered a NCAA Division I Keydet Club-sponsored basketball scholarship.”
“I had no idea how improbable it was for me to get an offer for a scholarship to play college basketball at a NCAA Division I university. Nor did I realize that four years at VMI would go on to shape my life and the futures of my family and children in ways I could have never have imagined.”
At VMI, Carter was introduced to the term “Three-Legged Stool.” “I fully embraced the concept on its merits, and I decided to anchor my personal and professional evolution in this uniquely American ideology.” While he did not achieve his goal of having academic stars as an economics major, he was a two-time All American and VMI’s first African-American battalion commander. Carter, who played in the NBA for several years after graduation from VMI (the Los Angeles Lakers chose him with the 22nd pick of the 1978 NBA draft), went on to a successful career in business and public service.
He then cited the experience of many of his contemporaries in barracks who were cadet-athletes supported by scholarships and went on to excel in a wide variety of careers. It is evidence, he asserted, that, when it comes to professional success, VMI alumni rival that of any university in America. Then, there are the strong bonds formed in barracks. “My best friends in life are not Lakers, Pacers, or Nets; they are VMI men. I am confident that graduates at other D-I schools do not share in this type of committed camaraderie. I wear my VMI class ring and my wedding ring. I do not wear the Laker championship ring.”
“Everyone associated with the Keydet Club was pleased to again celebrate our donors’ generosity and the amazing effects it has on the lives of our cadet-athletes,” said Deal. “We also were delighted to have Ron Carter give moving evidence of the efficacy of the VMI education and the special and enduring nature of the bonds forged in the shared experience of barracks.”
Scott Belliveau '83 Communications Officer - Executive Projects
The communications officer supports the strategy for all communications, including web content, public relations messages and collateral pieces in order to articulate and promote the mission of the VMI Alumni Agencies and promote philanthropy among varied constituencies.