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McCallum chats with a fellow first classman, W.F. Knehans, who raises an eyebrow when it comes out that McCallum sleeps seven hours a night. "I get six at the most," says Knehans.
"The daily routine is simple," says McCallum to a visitor. "Up at seven, shave, breakfast, formation at 7:30, first class at 7:45, four class periods of an hour, noon formation, lunch, two more class periods, football practice from 3:15 to six, out at 6:25, evening meal at 6:30. Then after 7:30 it's study."
McCallum, as one wishes a great running back to be, is superb at orientation, at perceiving the crucial elements at work even in seeming chaos. Seeing him at Annapolis, easy under the gold bars of authority, it is natural to ask about the mission of the academy. "There are two schools of thought on that," he says. "The first, call it Admiral Stockdale's, is that leadership should be stressed over academics. The second, Admiral Rickover's, is that you gotta know what you're doing to lead."
A third, call it Midshipman McCallum's, is an amalgam. "I think they get too technical here sometimes," he says. "To lead, you do have to have a good knowledge of the task, but you have to be able to take part in things at the men's level, too, then rise above it. The most important aspect of leadership is the faith of the people under you that you're going to take care of them. They gotta know your morality. If they don't trust you, they won't fight as well. It's hard to create that. I don't know a way you can really teach it; you just experience it."
Particularly in football. "You need sports for the leadership qualities they bring out," he says. "When it gets tougher, you have to push everybody to go harder to win, because you don't want anyone who's just content to play and not win leading you into battle."
All this might as well have been said by von Clausewitz or Nelson. But then McCallum lends the idea a lighter touch. "That's why my hero is Captain Kirk of the Enterprise," he says. "He always gets out of danger, and he hates to lose his men."
The Naval Academy also hates to lose its man, which is why McCallum is still in school. His football heroics came two years ago. His 1984 season was wiped out by a broken leg in Navy's second game. By all precedent, he should be an ensign now, serving the first of five years of active duty. But under NCAA rules, and at his request, McCallum has been permitted to return for a "hardship" fifth season. He is the first service academy athlete ever to redshirt.
McCallum was five years old when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. The child was fascinated by the astronauts. He clipped pictures of Shepard, Glenn, Aldrin and Armstrong and made a scrap-book. His parents, Napoleon and Virginia McCallum, were both teachers. They had christened their son Leon Ardel McCallum. However, seven months after he was born, they went to the Jefferson City, Mo. courthouse and changed his name. "My husband always wanted to have a son named Napoleon," says Virginia.
The elder Napoleon really deserved the name. In 1973, when his son was nine, he moved the family to an 11-acre farm in Milford, Ohio. Eight of those acres needed to be logged, cleared and fenced. The McCallums, father and son, did it. Then they built two barns and remodeled the house. There were animals to feed, fields to hoe. "We always worked," says the younger.
"I hate lazy kids," says the elder.