When Ronald White III, Admiral Farragut Academy Class of 2021 graduate, started high school as a freshman, he wasn’t even sure he wanted to go to college. Now, four years later and two years after starting at Farragut, he graduated with a track scholarship to attend the United States Military Academy Preparatory School at West Point with plans for admission to West Point in the Fall of 2022.
Ronald has been an athlete since a young age. He started running track when he was 8 years old and participated in the AAU Junior Olympics. A couple of years before attending Farragut, he was already an accomplished athlete competing at district and national championships. In addition, Ronald grew up playing football and planned to play his entire high school career. “When Farragut ended the football program last year, I almost didn’t come back,” Ronald confessed. “But I had a mentor in Coach Prather. He really wanted the best for me. He talked to me about why I wanted to leave, and he helped me weigh the opportunities I had for both football and track, and we determined that I had more opportunities in track. So I stayed.” And he’s glad he did.
“Today, my favorite memories of attending Farragut are hanging out with my teammates at track meets,” Ronald said. “I loved the camaraderie.”
During his junior year at Farragut, he was ranked #2 in Florida, and during his senior year, he placed 2nd at states and went undefeated in hurdles.
Outside of West Point, there were many schools interested in Ronald for their track team. But through his journey of choosing a school and applying to West Point, he was impressed with the track coaches. “For such a big school, the coaches really connected with me,” he said. “Even at some of the smaller schools I was looking at, it was sort of a process to get to the coach. But the West Point coach gave me his number and said that if I needed anything I could text him and he’d respond right back.”
Ronald’s granddad served in ROTC and in the Army in North Korea, but joining the military was never part of his plan. Now that he’s found this new path, he’s not exactly sure what he wants to do, but he’s leaning toward aviation.
Although Ronald would like to get back on the football field, he is not sure if he will try out yet. “Once I get there, the track coach is going to judge whether I can handle it because doing two D1 sports is a big commitment. But if my track coach says he thinks I can handle it, then I’ll probably try out.”
Applying for West Point definitely took patience and commitment. “It’s a long process,” he said, “but my advice for people who want to get into a service academy is to not get discouraged. There’ll be points where it’s confusing and there’s a lot to take in, but keep pushing through and make sure you have a support system behind you . . . people who can push you forward and remind you why you’re doing what you’re doing.”
“My advice for people who want to get into a service academy is to not get discouraged.”
“I had to apply for the congressional nomination from Vern Buchanan, since I live in Ruskin and not St. Pete,” he said. “When I didn’t get that one, I ended up getting one from LCDR Cabantac at Farragut.”
LCDR Cabantac, the Senior Naval Science Instructor for the NJROTC program at Farragut, was a big help to Ronald. He started at Farragut in January of 2020, three months before the pandemic hit, and so he had very little time to get used to the Naval Science program. “She helped me through naval science when I didn’t know how to wear my uniform or how to act,” Ronald said. “She really wanted me to succeed.” With LCDR Cabantac’s help, Ronald reached the rank of E4.
“Finding out I got in was a bittersweet moment,” Ronald said. “I was initially medically disqualified so I had to apply for a waiver. Although I was still accepted into the program, my acceptance depended on whether my medical was waived. It was exciting to know I’d been accepted, but still nerve-wracking because I had to wait for the medical to process. Once I found out that it was approved, it was amazing.”
Outside of participating in sports at Farragut, Ronald was involved in naval science, drone club, and the scuba program where he reached the rank of advanced diver. “It was hard to get involved in too much at Farragut because of COVID,” Ronald said. “At my other school, I was involved in student government, key club, and the mayor’s youth program (which does a lot of teen outreach, community events, and volunteering).” Outside of school, Ronald loves to skateboard and go diving with his granddad.
“I’m very proud of how far I’ve come,” Ronald said. “I have a little sister and my goal is to be someone she can look up to, and I feel like I’m on the right path.”
Ronald feels nostalgia for Farragut already. “Even though being yelled at by 1st Sgt may not seem cool at first,” he said with a laugh, “I’d tell other students to just enjoy it while you can, because it goes by so fast and you’re gonna miss it. I already miss it and I just graduated.”
“I’m ready for West Point Prep,” he continued. “I’m ready for the military and the academics, even though being away from home is going to be hard. I’m not looking forward to the New York weather, though. I’ve never even seen snow!”
Ronald will spend his first year of college at West Point Prep to prepare him for the academic, physical, and military challenges of the United States Military Academy at West Point.