Finley’s full days at the Merchant Marine Academy



Tim Finley (’18) says that Elder helped prepare him for his full schedule at the Merchant Marine Academy.

As previously mentioned in Carmine’s article about Gunnar Wall, six brave men in Elder’s 2019 class enlisted in either the Army, Citadel, Marines, Naval Academy, or the Merchant Marine Academy. This was a very courageous act by each of these men, and they all deserve our highest respect. One of these men in particular, Tim Finley, decided to attend the United States Merchant Marine Academy to continue his academic and athletic career.

Tim on the field for the MMA football squad. (taken from Tim’s Instagram)

I have had the pleasure of knowing Tim for about five years now, and he has unknowingly had a tremendous impact on me. Much of this impact happened while on the football field last year. For those of you who do not know, Tim was the starting center on Elder’s football team last year, and he was one of the best, if not the best, leaders on the team. Whether it be in the locker room, on the practice field, or during a game, he was always going his hardest. Tim was one of those players that was not scared to call you out for slacking. He knew that when one player took a play off, the whole team was affected. Tim would never take any breaks on or off the field. I really admire this ability he has of leading by example. The best type of leaders are the ones who hold themselves accountable too.

Despite his little free time, I got the chance to catch up with Tim on his first couple months at the Academy. I asked him about the physical training he has had to go through so far and how he has handled it: “The physical training consists of a lot of push ups, sit ups, and squat holds. The worst part about PT is getting up at 0500 for it.” Tim said the physical portion of everything has not been too difficult for him. This is no surprise to anyone who knows Tim because he is an absolute workhorse in any environment but especially in the weight room. He also described the mental part of the training: “There is a lot of mental toughness needed to get through it sometimes, but I felt very prepared coming from Elder football.” This says a lot about the coaches and the program we have here at Elder. Last, he mentioned the emphasis on class unity up there. Basically, this is the bond that is formed between everyone by suffering and succeeding together during each workout. The people that you suffer with are the people whom you build the biggest bonds with.

The Merchant Marine Academy is located in Kings Point, New York, which is about an eleven-hour drive from Elder. As one can imagine, this was a difficult transition for Tim. One of the most difficult transitions for him was academically: “The school load here causes lots of stress and work since we combine four years of college into three. The fourth year consists of me being out at sea on a ship.” Losing an entire year of time and still managing to complete all of his work sounds extremely difficult. Another difficult transition was getting to know people. Previous to starting school at Elder, the majority of freshman know a decent number of students from their grade school or sports. However, in college this can change greatly, especially if you are going to a college many hours away. “Coming into USMMA, I knew one person. However, after a couple weeks of training there were many bonds formed with my shipmates, and now I can refer to a lot of them as close friends,” stated Tim. I cannot imagine knowing almost no one and going to school in New York. To me, this shows that he is fearless. This is yet another significant quality that will serve him well in the Academy and all throughout life.

Although this experience has been pivotal in his life and amazing all around, Tim still does miss his family and friends. He commented on this difficulty by saying, “It is a complete change in life not seeing the people that I’ve been with growing up. I miss everyone so much.” Again, I do not think I could ever make this sacrifice that Tim has made and go without my family and friends. Tim also greatly misses some of Cincinnati’s best traditions and restaurants, such as Skyline Chili. “My mom brought Skyline Chili to me for parents’ weekend, and it made my day,” he said.

A lot of my friends and family have always told me about all of the free time they got in college, so I decided to ask Tim about what he does with his spare time. “I wish there was free time. Everyday I have a daily routine of classes, football, homework and sleep with a few things in between. If I ever have free time I spend it doing homework or studying,” Tim replied. This is a prime example of how dedicated one has to be to serve his or her country. With the exception of a few rare occasions, Tim has almost no time to just sit back and relax. His Academy specifically designs this tight schedule because it keeps the students focused on what they are there to do: succeed in school and eventually serve their country.

Although Tim has a crazy busy schedule, he still does his best to stay in touch with his high school friends. He did mention the difficulty with this though because everyone is on their own schedule which is completely different from his schedule. He also talked about a group of his closest friends that are always calling and checking up on him and said they “will just pick me up on my rough days.” I even got the chance to interview two of his closest friends, Aidan Byrne and my brother, Steven Seger. When asked what Tim has shared with him about the Academy, Byrne responded, “I have been in touch day to day since he received his phone privileges. Life there, as he explained to me, sounds like complete hell. From going to bed at midnight to the 4:30 wake up calls takes a special person.” I also asked the two how much of an inspiration Tim has been to them. Steven said, “I am so happy for him, and I consider myself lucky to know a guy like Tim. I couldn’t think of another person as gritty as Tim. He is one of the toughest dudes I know. He’s built for this, and I know he will do great.” Similarly, Byrne said, “Tim (Fams) Finley has been an inspiration to me since the day I met him, and I’m sure he has inspired his family and other friends, especially through these last couple of months.” These are just two of the many people Tim has impacted throughout his life and with his decision to attend the Merchant Marine Academy.

Gunnar Wall, one of Tim’s closest friends, is currently at the Naval Academy. A lot of his experience has been similar to that of Tim’s, so I asked Tim if they are still in contact, and Tim replied, “We talk a few times each week and push each other through the challenges since we can relate because of similar activities and struggles.” Having someone to lean on is very important in any person’s life, especially someone who is going through has much as these two are.

The most important thing about this whole experience is what Tim thinks about it. He misses many things from his home, yet this does not mean he regrets any of it. When asked about his thoughts on the experience, Tim said, “I believe I am on a good track and just have to continue to strive for success.” We all believe in you Tim, and your perseverance and sacrifice are truly inspirations for everyone. He also mentioned that he loves to hear from anyone who reaches out. A simple text or letter giving encouragement or checking in on him can make his day. You can send him one of these through his Facebook or mailing address (attached below).

Everyone here is rooting for you no matter what happens. Keep up the good work and continue to make us proud. Altiora.


Timothy Finley

300 Steamboat Road

PO Box 764

Kings Point, NY 11024