Decorated general moves to see his daughter play
Originally posted on www.stripes.com by John E. Hoover
John Admire has advised a president and consulted with the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He has commanded thousands of troops and fought in two wars. He has won numerous military medals (including two Purple Hearts), has four master's degrees and is enshrined in multiple halls of fame, including the University of Oklahoma's and Webster High School's.
"But my favorite title is Dad," Admire says. "That's the only one that really counts for me, to be quite honest. That's the one I've worked at the hardest, and it's been the most rewarding."
Admire, 70, is a retired Marine, a one-time infantry grunt in Vietnam who ascended the chain of command to the rank of Major General.
He's also father and role model to Katelyn Admire, a freshman on the University of Tulsa soccer team.
Katelyn grew up in North Carolina and Virginia, but when she accepted a scholarship offer from TU coach Kyle Cussen, John Admire figured it was a good time to reconnect with his roots and relocate to Tulsa.
Considering he had missed only three soccer games in her life, it made good sense to move.
"If she's here," he said, "there's no place I'd rather be."
Katelyn Admire isn't in the starting lineup or even in the regular sub in the rotation yet, but it may not be long. At 5-foot-10 she's TU's tallest field player, and she matches her natural length with athletic ability.
She scored a goal in TU's exhibition match against Oklahoma Baptist, despite a huge black brace on her right arm to protect a fractured elbow.
"It wouldn't be soccer season," her dad says, "without an injury."
At 1 p.m. Sunday, the Golden Hurricane plays host to No. 13 Penn State, last season's national runner-up to North Carolina. It's a big game for TU, and maybe a big game for Admire. She's familiar with a few players on the Nittany Lions' roster, and as a kid she attended swim meets at Penn State.
In fact, Admire was an accomplished swimmer, winning multiple gold and silver medals at the AAU national championship and the USA Swimming Virginia state championship, among other titles since junior high.
"She's probably a better swimmer, to be honest with you, than soccer (player)," her dad says.
Maybe. Last year she was recognized for both sports as the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame's student-athlete of the year. She also was student council president and salutatorian with a 4.74 grade point average.
After scoring in her first game at TU, she ran up to the press box, grabbed the PA microphone and thanked everyone for coming and encouraged the crowd to follow the team on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
"I've just learned to accept the fact," John Admire says, "that there's not a hell of a lot she can't do."
Much of it comes from being around her military hero dad. He said it has been just the two of them since she was 8 years old.
"In all my history classes, I always do a project on him and I always get an A. Always," she said. "... It's inspiring. He's taught me a lot."
Not long after her mother left, Katelyn started competitive swimming.
That meant getting up at 4:30 in the morning for swim practice, followed by school all day, soccer practice in the afternoon and more swim practice in the evening.
"We were getting up at 4:30 and getting home at close to 9," John Admire said, "and she did this for three-plus years."
Sort of like a military regimen.
"Yeah," she said. "I've been through that white-glove test once or twice."
"Somehow or another," John Admire said, "she survived the authoritarian Marine discipline."
John Admire said he lacked that discipline at a young age.
When he graduated from Webster in 1960, his grade point average was 2.0. He enjoyed basketball, so he played for a while at Oklahoma Christian College in Edmond. Soon enough, he said, "I realized I wasn't gonna play in the NBA and I'd better start studying. So I ended up graduating from OU Phi Beta Kappa with about a 3.89 (GPA)."
From there, Admire worked in oil fields and construction until the Vietnam War broke out.
Admire's grandfather was in the Army in World War I, and his father was in the Navy in World War II. He knew, being out of college, he would soon be drafted, so he told his dad he would be a draft dodger - and enlist in the Marines.
"He said, 'Well, that's an insane way to dodge a draft, but be my guest,' " Admire said.
Admire said his intention was to serve four years and move back into civilian life, but something odd happened.
"I absolutely fell in love with it," Admire said.
He did three combat tours in Vietnam, rising to platoon commander for the 3rd Infantry Division. He was injured in combat twice, including an eye injury that temporarily took his sight. (More than 40 years later, his daughter took a soccer ball in the face and also suffered temporary blindness in one eye.)
"The combat, of course, is a hell of an experience. The sad part is the casualties, of course," he said. "But it's just something I fell in love with. I think basically it was the young Marines. I loved serving with them."
Decades later, Admire was back with the 3rd Infantry, this time in Iraq as commanding officer of the entire division in Desert Shield/Desert Storm, more than 20,000 Marines and sailors.
"Different perspective," he said.
Admire served in the Carter administration as Senior Military Social Aide in the White House, and was on General Colin Powell's Joint Staff in the Pentagon. He also was Congressional Liaison for the Marine Corps on Capitol Hill.
"People say those are glamorous, and they are," he said. "Nonetheless, my favorite time was the time I spent with the Marines, to be quite honest. No doubt about it."
Katelyn was 3 years old when her dad retired after 33 years of active duty. She started playing soccer at 4. Now, 14 years later, he has missed just four of her games. The fourth was TU's victory at cross-town rival Oral Roberts last week; he was being inducted into another hall of fame and couldn't break the engagement.
"I hate missing 'em," he says. "... I was going to Paris one time for a Joint Forces Command conference, and I wanted to see at least the first half, and I got the first half in and got the heck out of there and was almost late with my connection in D.C. But I made it somehow or another."
Like many young female soccer players, Katelyn Admire dreamed of playing at North Carolina or Duke. But she missed most of her junior year - a critical recruiting period for women's soccer - with an injury.
So in an attempt to catch up, her dad took her to camps in Chapel Hill and Durham and elsewhere, then wound down a hectic summer with a relaxing trip to see family in Tulsa.
Almost on a lark, they looked into the TU soccer program. Soon, Katelyn attended Cussen's camp and "she fell in love with TU," John Admire said. "We never applied to another school. This was where she wanted to go."
Now, it's not just Dad attending her games. A dozen or so family members sit on the top row of TU's soccer stadium, right at midfield.
"It's just fate sometimes."