Marine Corps Announces The Semper Fidelis All-American Program

The United States Marine Corps has announced the launch of the Semper Fidelis All-American Program, a nationwide initiative that will recognize 100 high school students who pursue academic and athletic achievement, as well as, in their communities and in the classroom. Students selected will illustrate a dynamic quality of character and a sustained commitment to fighting and winning the battles that improve their lives and the lives of those around them.

The new program is an evolution of the Semper Fidelis Football Program, which recognized some of the nation's finest high school football players for their athletic and academic achievement from 2012-2016. The Semper Fidelis All-American Program seeks to identify and recognize not just football players, but young men and women who are setting an example in a wide variety of sports from all corners of the country.

The flagship event of the program will be the inaugural Battles Won Academy, held in the summer of 2017 in Washington, DC for the 96 high school juniors who will be selected from the 48 Marine Corps Recruiting Stations across the country. The three-day academy will feature keynote speakers from across a broad range of disciplines, from sports and business to public service and entertainment. Additionally, each student selected as a Semper Fidelis All-American will be given the opportunity to invite a mentor of their choosing to attend the academy with them.

"The new initiative will continue to place priority on athleticisim, civic and athletic achievement, but will do so in a way that's open to both young women and men who play any sport," said LtCol John Caldwell of the United States Marine Corps. "We're looking for students who possess a fighting spirit. They overcome adversity in all aspects of life and actively engage in improving the lives of others."

During Marine Week 2016 in Nashville, TN, the Semper Fidelis All-American Program kicked off with a keynote speech from two time Olympic champion in the decathlon, Ashton Eaton. Eaton's connection to the Marine Corps is close-his brother, veteran Marine Verice Bennett earned a Silver Star, the nation's third highest military decoration for valor-for service in Afghanistan. He spoke of the importance of identifying those young people who have overcome the challenges placed before them, and the necessity of that challenge.

"They're necessary because they make us stronger," Eaton said. "Physically and mentally, and by necessity, if you've done something once, you can do that again."

Students can be self-nominated or nominated by teachers, coaches and counselors. Nominations for the Semper Fidelis All-A merican Program will close on January 31, 2017.