Liam Rial has spent much of his young life on the water and he has a love of military history. The two passions converged when he applied to the U.S. Naval Academy and earlier this month U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse chose Rial as his top pick for the school. The top ranking is not a complete guarantee of acceptance by the naval service academy, but it’s pretty darn close.
"I commend Liam Rial for choosing to follow in the footsteps of our honorable servicemen and women, who every day make great sacrifices to protect our nation in the U.S. Navy," Whitehouse said. "Liam has demonstrated a commitment to service that makes him an excellent candidate for admission to the United States Naval Academy. I was proud to nominate him for consideration."
Rial attends North Kingstown High School and is captain of both lacrosse and hockey teams. He also coaches a youth hockey team, and is a member of his school’s leadership academy, a program that helps incoming freshman adjust to high school. He received the President’s Award for Education Excellence, and is a member of the National Honor Society and the Academic All-State Lacrosse Team. He also serves as the North Kingstown High School Representative to the 2nd District Youth Congressional Cabinet.
When Rial was 12, he was given an old, rundown Pearson Ensign sailboat.
“I had no idea what I was doing,” Rial said. “I read every book I could find. It took me four years but eventually I got her back in the water.”
As a kid, he wanted to be in the Army – “like everyone else.” As he got older, he focused on the Navy.
“I want to go to the academy because I want to go into the Navy. It is more than just the free tuition and opportunities, I want to do something purposeful in life and serving in the Navy or Marine Corps is just that,” Rial said. “I want to either be a SEAL or a Marine Corps infantry officer, both of which will allow me to lead a life of purpose and service, like all branches of the military, while also enjoying myself. I am not the kind of guy to carry a brief case to work everyday and could not see myself doing anything else.”
Members of Congress are allowed to nominate a limited number of candidates to the U.S. Naval Academy, the U.S. Military Academy, and the U.S. Air Force Academy. In addition to other eligibility criteria, Senator Whitehouse seeks to nominate applicants who have demonstrated leadership qualities, strong academic performance, and proven athletic ability.