by Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff
Like all the draft prospects PD has interviewed, Ross Pospisil has big plans for the future. Unlike everyone else, those plans don’t involve playing football.
Navy’s most prolific tackler in 2009 is looking beyond the gridiron in the years to come. He spoke to PD in an informative interview covering a variety of topics, including a future that’s as wide open as the ocean he’s studying (the specific aspects of which he spelled out below.)
Well, I’ve been talking to a lot of guys who are getting ready for their combine and pro days, and I’m curious what you’re doing these days.
Right now, I’m company commander of the 28th Company, so a lot of my time is spent just learning and continuing to lead my company in a lot of ways. It’s been a challenge. I mean, it’s something (where) I never knew how much it took. I guess my time, although it’s still busy, it’s shifting. So, it’s kind of given me a chance to start to prepare for what lies in store next for me, and to get to know people I’ve been living with for the last four years, but I’ve been so busy with football at times, I haven’t been able to really, truly spend some time with them. I mean, (with) school, I’m just trying to graduate, and the military side of things has taken up most of my time.
Now, I want to make sure I get this right: what is the name of the company?
It’s 28th Company.
Okay. And are there a number of different companies within the school, or the class? How is that divided up?
There’s 30 companies in our brigade, (and) the brigade is the whole school. So I’m one of those 30 guys (in command). I’ll tell you what, it’s more than I probably even knew, but it’s something that – it’s such a blessing to get the opportunity to put myself in a position (where) I’m really challenged with a lot of things I haven’t done before, so it’s been good.
What are some of the things that you haven’t done before?
Nothing – it’s just trying to steer the direction of our company a little bit. Obviously, kind of like our team, it’s not me: the leadership of our company falls upon the other seniors and first class, as we call them, in the company. So it’s really kind of facilitating, and a representation of them, and creating a little vision. But, at our school, you have so many different dink lists, like, “so-and-so didn’t do this or this,” you try to stay on top of those things. You try to stay on top of keeping morale up. Obviously, during the time after Christmas or spring break, things can get a little hairy. We have people going a little stir crazy. So it’s a wide (variety) of things, but it’s, I think, one of the most rewarding positions, because I have the opportunity to not only see the big picture of what’s going on, but (to) interact with my company on a personal level, which is really the best of both worlds. It’s really the ultimate leadership position. I feel I’ve been very, very blessed to have the opportunity to participate and be a company commander. It’s just – it’s humbling, thinking about the other classmates I have who have done an amazing job as well, and better, in most senses. My learning curve had to be pretty steep, because, I mean – obviously, I’ve gone to school for four years, but – there are certain aspects that I’ve been (distanced from), just from being so busy with football and whatnot. But it’s pretty great.
So, has playing football in the past given you a break from some of the grind of the everyday, or, now that you’re not playing, do you feel like you have a lot more time to devote to other things?
I definitely have a lot more time to devote to other things. It consumed a lot of time, and rightly so, and I loved every minute of it. But I figured out this thing called “afternoons” now, that there’s actually a time period after lunch, like until dinner, where you can, when class is over, do other things. I always thought that just was football and stuff. But, I mean, it’s been good. It’s neat to have the opportunity to really focus on this last push to graduation. I’ve been kind of running this race, going through this journey of football for so long. Now that’s kind of switching to the Marine Corps and the military, so it’s neat to see how there’s another race, per se, that’s been provided to direct my energy elsewhere, because my energy has been directed so heavily towards football since I was, like, twelve years old. So that’s kind of an exciting thing, to see that transformation, how there are so many parallels between the two realms. I mean, I could go on and on about things I learned in football that are direct applications to what I’m doing today and what I will do in the future.
Well, what is a typical day for you now?
Similar to what it used to be. Do you want a step-by-step, or –?
Yeah, just sort of a basic rundown of your everyday schedule.
We’ve got drills at 6:30. You know, we do a duty turnover that myself or my XO (Executive Officer) receives. Seven o’clock, we have formation, breakfast following that. Class starts at 7:55, goes all the way to lunch, where you have formation again –
Wait, wait, time out one second. Class starts at 7:55?
I think you lost me right there, Ross.
(Laughs.) Yeah, class is at 7:55. Which is, you know, nice because I try to get a lot of my stuff done in the morning and it enables me (to). After formation at 12, we’ll have lunch and whatnot, followed by a meeting with either my staff or a company officer trying to just stay on top of things. Some days, I have class in the afternoon, some days not. Actually, to be honest, I’ve been bad: for the past couple of weeks I haven’t been working out a whole lot, but I’m trying to get back into things again. So throw that in there, mix it with some homework and working on different tasks within our company and things that need to get accomplished. Then dinner at 6:30. Oh, before dinner, I’m playing intramurals – I’m playing basketball every day, that’s pretty fun – for about an hour. Back to homework, and we’ve got different events going on around here. That takes me up to bedtime. I try to get in bed about 12, get a good (bit of) sleep. So they can be full days, but they’re good.
In terms of football, did you know at the end of your last season that that would be it, or were you entertaining the idea of looking at the NFL?
No. I mean, I knew. I think I had come to the point where – I mean, it’s been such a blessing to play football. It’s always going to be in my blood, there’s no doubt about it, but I knew my time was going to come to an end, and all good things come to an end sooner or later. I knew I had a responsibility to fulfill the next couple of years. So I knew at the beginning of this season that it would be my last; that’s what really enabled me to cherish and enjoy every minute of it, because literally, each game was my last or getting closer to it. You know, people asked me when I went to the East West (Shrine) Game, “Oh, are you going to try to play in the NFL?” and it’s not even on my radar, to be honest with you. I’m just focused on, you know, how can I be the best Marine Corps officer possible, preparing myself for that. And, I say, shoot, a few years down the road, if I still have an itch like no other – it would have to be a pretty big itch – to play, then maybe (I’d) entertain some thoughts, but… I’m done. It’s just been a blessing to get to finish like we did this year.
Yeah, let’s talk about wrapping up (the season). You guys had a great game against Missouri (in the Texas Bowl). What is the secret to Navy football? Because you always lose the battle on paper.
It just never looks like you have a shot, and even the games that you lost were competitive games. What do you think your team has that other teams don’t?
Oh, I mean, honestly, you come out there, and there’s so many great teams out there – and I don’t speak down on any teams, I have so much respect for all the teams that we played. I think little things, like intangibles, would describe it. That’s really all we have: we don’t have size, we don’t have speed. We have intangibles, and it starts with a love and a caring for one another. I think when you have guys – you have guys out there who truly play for each other, and that inspires greatness, I feel, in a lot of ways, and (it inspires) a lot of men, seeing their teammates sacrificing, putting themselves on the line. So it inspires people to things that (they) aren’t capable (of) in an individual form, individual fashion. It’s always just spurred on by the guys around you, and it’s something that’s fun to watch, to kind of see when things are clicking. Guys got to where we were able to continue to compete, and that’s a huge testament to the coaches and the people who prepare us… for just executing and going out there. I think something our team has been blessed with is just laying everything on the line, not holding anything back, because we know that only gives us a chance. We’re never going to be a team that can walk out and just roll over somebody, just by showing up. So, having the knowledge of that, and really taking it in each and every play – playing each and every play like it’s your last and never settling for anything less. I mean, that’s a big smorgasbord, but if you add it all together, I think it’s the intangibles, in a lot of ways. Like you said, on paper we always lose.
Now, you were a good linebacker in high school and running back in high school. Were you looking anywhere else besides Navy?
No. Not really at all. I wanted to play Division I, and (the Navy) had just been my frame of mind, always. I only applied at the Naval Academy. Looking back, that was kind of a stupid decision: if I hadn’t gotten in, I probably would have been looking for a year or something. But it just felt so right, I think, in a lot of ways. It gave me the opportunity to accomplish some goals I had, and do something that was extremely different and out of the ordinary (compared to) a lot of people. Things kind of just all fell together. If I didn’t go here, I would have probably tried to walk on somewhere else or something like that, but who knows? I hadn’t even really given a thought to it.
So, how did you come upon – is it ocean engineering?
It is. It is.
How did that happen?
I think in a couple ways. I’d been researching a lot before I came, kind of looking at majors and stuff. I wanted to get a Master’s degree here, eventually, and I wanted an option with that. I think to operate in today’s world, or in the professional world, if anything, it helps to have a Master’s degree. But I wanted an option there, and I knew that math has always come easily to me, so I knew writing papers probably wasn’t going to be my best bet. Plus, if I went into the humanities undergrad, it would have been tough to get a Master’s in any engineering field. So having an undergrad (degree) in engineering was something that I found interesting, giving me the opportunity to kind of go both ways for a Master’s program. And ocean engineering – over the other engineering – was just really broad. It gave me a good, broad spectrum of all the engineering disciplines. And I love the ocean, so hey, throw that in there.
What are we talking about when we say ocean engineering? How is that different from, say, oceanography or something like that?
Oceanography is more the science behind the weather, and you throw in… salinity and waves and such. Oceanography is really the science and the study of the ocean in that sense. Ocean engineering is applying a lot of what you know about the forces in the ocean and applying that to structures and systems within that ocean environment. So, how are the waves going to affect this oil rig that we’re building? Or, the salinity: anything that will cause erosion of any kind. It even gets into beach erosion and things like that, with re-supplying beaches that are eroding. Even underwater systems like scuba… that’s pretty interesting. So, really, really broad, but that’s kind of what it does: takes that science and applies it to a system within the ocean.
And, besides the Master’s degree, do you know what your plans are for the next few years?
I’m looking like I’m probably going to stick around for next season and be like a GA (graduate assistant)… which I’m excited about. And then after that, I will be, December-ish of next year, I’ll be starting up at Quantico, which is just the base that’s in Virginia. And after that, it just depends on what MOS I choose, or job specialty, that is (Military Occupational Specialty), and the option requires short or longer schooling after that. Then I’ll be – I’m not sure where I’ll be stationed, I hope I’ll be on the West Coast (Miramar or Camp Pendleton). So, hopefully, a couple years out I’ll be on the West Coast, with a unit out there, and possibly preparing to deploy somewhere. That kind of takes it two, three years out. After that, who knows? (Laughs.)
How do you feel, looking back on your years at the Academy – I think it’s probably okay to look back now – how do feel about the whole experience?
You know, in some ways, I still have to pinch myself. I don’t even – I’m like, did that really happen? Because I just feel so tremendously blessed to have been a part of it all, just to have been there, let alone have the opportunity to contribute. And, I mean, above all of that, it’s just the relationships and friendships that were developed over that time. The things that I learned about life, I mean, I just can’t say enough about. Not only did I have extreme amounts of joy just playing the game of football – I mean, I love the game and playing with my brothers on the field – but things that I learned through the game, just about life, that I can apply for, forever, really. I’m just so thankful to have been put through those challenges and whatnot, in order to prepare for the future. So, yeah, it’s just one of those things that’s like… it feels like just yesterday I was starting up as a freshman in camp… It definitely went fast. In a heartbeat, it feels, in a lot of ways. It just reminds me that we all need to take advantage of every opportunity we have. Live with no regrets.
I certainly don’t think you should have any regrets, Ross. I really appreciate talking with you, and I wish you the best of luck.
Well, thank you very much… I appreciate it.
Email Chris Warner at [email protected]