SWAMPSCOTT — Codi Butt has achieved a dream that she’s had since she was 10 years old.
The three-sport athlete at St. Mary’s has received an appointment to attend the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y. Butt, a senior girls lacrosse player for the Spartans (she also played soccer and hockey), has dreamed of this since she was a little girl.
“When I was younger, my uncle (Col. Clayton Gardner) was deployed overseas as an Army officer,” she said. “He kind of inspired my interest in the military in general. As soon as I found out there was a college for the Army, I was all in.”
Also talking to her was another uncle, Kevin Callahan, a commander in the Navy.
“They were kind of each trying to convince me,” she said. “Army or Navy. I chose Army.”
One of the reasons why, she said, was that, to her, the Army seemed to be more hands-on in what it offered.
“And I just thought that was for me,” she said, noting her uncle had been deployed to Afghanistan, Bosnia and Iraq.
But there’s another side to this story too.
Once she began to seriously think about military school, she sat down with Don Nowland, a West Point alumnus, who got her connected with fellow graduate Jack King (who is also on the board of directors at St. Mary’s).
Nowland has since died, and Butt really wanted to honor his memory by completing this mission.
“They set out a plan for me, and I followed it to the letter,” she said. “I started last summer with the Summer Leadership Experience at West Point.
“I went for a week, and it confirmed what I already knew: that West Point was where I wanted to be.”
She completed her application to the academy just before school started last September. Despite a broken wrist she suffered playing sports, she even passed her SLE fitness assessment.
“I was kind of shocked about that,” she said.
That was the easy part. Aside from all the medical tests, she had to set up appointments with representatives of Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Edward J. Markey as well as Rep. Seth Moulton. Each of those interviews represented a winnowing process.
“In December, I heard from (Markey and Warren) that I’d been granted interviews (with people from their staffs),” she said. “They were pretty nerve-racking. So was Congressman Moulton’s.”
Two weeks later, she got a call from Moulton’s office saying he was going to nominate her. Soon after came Markey’s recommendation.
She also received, from the academy, a letter of encouragement (LOE) confirming that she was one of the top candidates. She did an overnight on the campus in February, “and at that point, everything was done.”
Except for the official acceptance.
Finally, she was notified by West Point that the school selected her as Moulton’s official nominee, which meant an appointment was a virtual certainty. The “Big Envelope” came three days later, on Saturday, March 9, and she was officially in.
The appointment means her education, room and board will be free. In payment, she has to commit to at least five years of active commitment.
“I want to make a difference in the world,” she said. “I thought West Point was the best way to do that. I just want to be the best leader I can be.”
Butt has two younger brothers who deal with physical issues. Kyle, 13, has pediatric epilepsy, “and he inspires me in so many different ways. He has such a happy and positive outlook. He deals with it like a champ.”
Her other brother, Connor, 16, has dealt with neck and back issues much of his life.
“Their toughness has been something I’ve always admired,” she said.
She’ll graduate May 16, and shortly after a month of down time, it’s off to West Point on July 1.
But it won’t be complete down time.
“I’ll be at the gym every day, working on pull-ups, pushups, running, sit-ups, and all of that.”