“Pushing Myself Past My Limits”: Achieving Success At West Point

Tony J. Smith


Tony Smith grew up in Katy, Texas. Both of his parents were accountants who worked hard to provide a better life for Tony and his older sister. The McGee Chapel Missionary Baptist Church was an important part of Tony’s life, as were sports. In high school, he captained the football team, playing both left and right guard positions. As a junior, he applied for the summer experience at all three academies, and attended camp at the Air Force Academy, but Diversity Recruiting Officer Betty Myrthil convinced Tony that West Point was the right fit for him. He started out at the United States Military Academy Prep School, where he performed well academically and transitioned from playing football to rugby. He felt that the prep school year matured him and helped him learn to manage chaos. Academically, he performed well at the academy, but admits that people were his priority over studying. During his time at West Point, various injuries required three surgeries, which humbled him. Militarily, he learned the importance of being present for subordinates. In addition to being Class President, he was also the Deputy Brigade Commander and the Captain of the Rugby Team. Upon graduation, he branched Infantry, partly because of his love of working with people, and partly because he felt that the Infantry branch needs minority leaders. Currently, he is on a medical hold at West Point until he recovers from his most recent surgery. While here, he is working with several athletic teams and the Center for Enhanced Performance. In this interview, he talks about his childhood, the importance of church and sports, and his experiences at the Prep School and at West Point. He describes leading the Rugby team, and some of the challenges both he and the team faced. He discusses his surgeries and recovery efforts, including the importance of having support “in dark places.” Finally, he reflects on his future and what West Point means to him.


name Tony J. Smith
institution USMA
graduation year 2019
service Infantry
unit USCC
specialty Rugby Team Captain, Deputy Brigade Commander, Class President
service dates 2019