West Point Mike Viti has all the qualities of a great leader he's decisive, not afraid to speak up and backs up his words with action.
Those qualities serve him well as captain of the Army football team, and now he can put them to use in the Corps of Cadets as a regimental commander, one of the highest student leadership positions at the U.S. Military Academy.
"As a member of the football team, I've seen this for the past four years,'' said senior linebacker Charlie Rockwood. "I can't wait for the corps to see it.''
As one of four regimental commanders, Viti is in charge of 1,000 students and supervises two battalions and eight companies of cadets. Essentially, Viti will set the course for one-quarter of the student body, and serve as a liaison between the military leadership and the cadets.
"It was really a great honor,'' said Viti, a senior fullback from Berwick, Pa. "I was very surprised when they approached me about the position. It's a huge, huge responsibility.''
The idea of adding command responsibilities to his football duties, his academic studies and his military training is a daunting task, and something Viti considered very carefully when he consulted with academy and team leaders.
"It's not everybody who gets selected for it,'' Viti said. "I figured it as such a rare opportunity. I talked about it with my family. I said 'Am I going to be upset that I didn't take on this challenge?' I didn't want to sit there after graduation thinking about something I didn't do. I actually wanted the position.''
Viti has the faith of his teammates.
"Mike is a big inspiration to me,'' said junior running back Wesley McMahand. "Being on the same field, you can see the intensity he brings. If he brings that intensity to the corps, it will be a real fun year, down (in the corps) and up here (at the field). I can't say enough good things about Mike Viti.''
Viti said one of his major goals is to link the corps with the varsity athletic teams, a relationship that is sometimes strained. In fact, Viti believes his athletic association makes him a stronger candidate for the post.
"They want somebody who is well-rounded,'' Viti said. "You want somebody who understands the full circle of what West Point is all about. I think I can provide that.''
Though only on the job for a few days, Viti is well aware of his busier schedule.
"There will be new challenges every day,'' Viti said. "Just taking on those days and doing the best I can but still giving my full time up here, it will be a time thing.''
What they're saying about Mike Viti
"Mike Viti epitomizes the warrior ethos both on and off the football field.
"He is mentally and physically tough, a totally selfless team player, who always leads from the front. He is a tremendous leader and role model for every member of the Army football team, and for every member of the Corps of Cadets. Mike Viti is the exact type of inspirational leader America needs leading her sons and daughters both at West Point and in today's Army."
- Brig. Gen. Robert Caslen Jr., the Commandant of Cadets
"In January, when I took over, I told the kids I wanted us to be the best we could at everything we can do, and that includes being a cadet. This shows that Mike has great leadership qualities and people see it, recognize it and realize that it's more than the football field but in the corps, too."
- Army football coach Stan Brock
"His (captain's) 'C' is a little bigger down in the corps. Mike will do a good job."
- senior WR Jeremy Trimble, also a team captain