SMCM men’s lacrosse captain excelling with the Marines
By JAMES A. McCRAY III
St. Mary’s College of Maryland Seahawks senior Justin Harty was one of three team captains on the Seahawks men’s lacrosse team last season, a worthy honor on a roster of over 40 other members.
But after completing the United States Marine Corps Officer Candidates School, Harty was again named a leader. This time, a leader of over 400 men and women.
In July, Harty was awarded the Commandant’s Trophy after completing the 12-week OCS, which was split into two six-week courses over the last two summers.
The trophy is an award given to the officer candidate with the highest marks over three categories, including Marines academics, physical fitness and leadership.
“I would say it was pretty amazing,” said Harty, a New Jersey native, of winning the award. “My grandfather, Christopher Harty, and my dad, Aaron Harty, are both Marines and I was obviously really excited to tell them. … It was a special feeling.”
The trophy will remain on display on the St. Mary’s College campus and is the first time the St. Mary’s County college has had a winner in the 57-year history of the trophy.
“I think it is neat because you don’t have many people interested in the military coming down to St. Mary’s,” Harty said. “It’s a cool thing and I hope that it kind of sparks some interest in some people down here.”
OCS brings together candidates from all over the country and sends the aspiring Marines to Quantico, Va., during either a 12-week session or two six-week sessions.
“You show up and they are constantly harping on the fact that you’re always being evaluated,” Harty said. “Everything you do is graded and everything you do is watched and it’s broken down into three different categories.”
Marine academics include classes on tactics, weapon, history and etiquette of the Marine Corps and count for 25 percent of the final OCS GPA.
The physical fitness aspect, which includes a physical fitness test, obstacle course, combat course and stamina course, counts for an additional 25 percent and the leadership area, which includes leading peers in different positions, and leading a team through woods counts for 50 percent of the final grade.
Harty finished with a 94.8 percent out of 100, which also came with a second recognition in winning the Leadership Award for having the highest leadership average in OCS.
But even while preparing for OCS school the past two years, Harty has also had the job of juggling schoolwork and being an important cog on the Seahawks lacrosse team, now entering his second year as team captain when the season begins in the spring.
“It’s been interesting … in getting ready for Officer Candidate School and getting ready for lacrosse season and trying to make sure my grades stay up,” he said. ‘I think it made me grow up a little faster, which is nice.”
He also happened to have an advantage in being fully prepared, thanks to his Marine Corps lineage and friendships.
“Having the friends and family that I do seriously does help me out a lot because I talk to them about a lot of different things,” he said.
And as he has prepared for OCS, he and his team have been preparing for another season, his senior season on the field.
“Our team has definitely been pushing 100 percent,” Harty said. “I am expecting big things this year. I can totally see us making the NCAA tournament for the first time at our school for a while. I am expecting big things, absolutely.”
Harty expects to be commissioned in June and hopes to be enrolled into the Basic School, a school where newly commissioned officers attend, also in Quantico.
However, Harty states that being accepted into the Basic School is a hope as of right now.
“The Marine Corps is downsizing right now, so it’s really hard to get into the Basic School right away,” Harty said. “There are so many other graduates waiting to get in there, so I am hoping I can get in there in August.”
On why he wanted to be a Marine, he added, “I want to be a Marine to lead Marines. The Marine Corps is something I have been around my entire life. I believe that they are the most impressive individuals I’ve ever met. It’s been a privilege to have growing up around them.”
Harty will be presented with the trophy on Saturday at halftime of the men’s basketball team’s home game versus York (Pa.)