|The SUNY-Maritime football team got a pep talk from space before the Privateers took on a maritime rival.
SUNY-Maritime photo by Sean Engel
THROGGS NECK, N.Y. – On Thursday evening, the Privateer football team received a phone call from Maritime College alum Scott Kelly '87 in advance of the team's contest against the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy on Friday.
Kelly's call, however, was not an ordinary phone call; he had dialed the Maritime College campus from the International Space Station, over 240 miles above the Earth's atmosphere.
While on the phone for nearly 19 minutes with the Maritime football team, Captain Kelly briefly spoke about his mission as well as his time as a student at Maritime. The latter portion of the call featured Kelly answering questions from several members of the Privateer football unit.
"Captain Kelly is an inspiration to all Maritime College cadets for his unrivaled work ethic, leadership, and dedication," said Privateer senior linebacker Kameron Knight (Clayton, N.C./West Johnson).
Junior defensive lineman Vincent Geritano (Plainview, N.Y./Plainview JFK) added, "One thing that can be taken from Captain Kelly is that hard work and having big ambitions can lead you to places others only wish they could be."
In all, Kelly answered nine questions before the satellite used to make the connection to Maritime moved out of range and forced an end to the call. Those in attendance, including the 84 members of the 2015 football team, stood with applause to recognize Kelly as he wished the team luck once again.
Nearly halfway through his "Year in Space" mission, Captain Kelly is aboard the space station on a 342-day research mission to collect scientific data important to future human exploration of our solar system.
One of the primary objectives that NASA is hoping to achieve on this mission is to prepare for human missions to areas beyond the space station and the Earth's moon. Kelly and his identical twin brother, Mark, a retired astronaut who will remain at home in Arizona, will be studied and compared against the other to determine the effects of extended living in space.
Kelly is expected to return to Earth in the spring of 2016, when his capsule lands in Kazakhstan.
While school bragging rights will be on the line this Friday evening when the Privateers and Mariners meet on the gridiron, Captain Kelly will also be looking to attain bragging rights over his brother Mark, a Merchant Marine Academy alumnus.