Earning an appointment to a U.S. military academy is an ambitious goal for a teenager.
Hopeful cadets and midshipmen need lofty grade-point averages, high test scores and superior class rankings. Their overall health is checked, their fitness is tested and their backgrounds are combed for any signs of decaying moral character.
And that’s just part of the vetting process.
On the flip side, U.S. military academies are attractive to high-achieving students in a number of ways.
A large perk is the free tuition. In exchange, students must commit to five years of service in their school’s respective force upon graduation.
Schools within the Trinity League have long produced students who’ve earned an appointment, but the pipeline seems to be flowing like never before.
The latest to choose a military academy are Santa Margarita seniors Jerrett Overland and Kimmy Woolfenden, both of whom committed to the Air Force Academy last month.
Overland is a top hockey player in his age group who helped the Eagles win the USA Hockey high school Division 1 national championship in Minnesota last March.
“He was a big part of our team last season,” Santa Margarita coach Craig Johnson told California Rubber.
He also competes with the Anaheim Jr. Ducks. He’s the 18th player with ties to the club to make a Division I college commitment in the past five years, and the first to commit to a military academy.
“Going to the Air Force Academy is a life-changing decision, and I am proud to make it,” Overland told California Rubber Hockey.
Air Force has reached the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament the past two years.
Woolfenden plans to continue her swimming career at Air Force.
She finished third in the CIF-SS Division I final in the 100-yard breaststroke last spring, helping the Eagles win the team title. She transferred to Santa Margarita after setting a school record in the even the year before at Beckman High School in Irvine.
Overland and Woolfenden should arrive in Colorado Springs not long after former Santa Margarita football player Christian Frost graduates from Air Force with a degree in management, and aspirations of becoming a dentist.
TJ Medina graduated from JSerra last spring and he’s at the United States Military Academy Prep School in Fort Monmouth, N.J., where most Air Force players spend their first year.
The Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. is also well stocked with athletes from the Trinity League.
JSerra graduate Kyle Stewart is a backup first baseman for the baseball team, Chad Deegan of Servite is on the golf team, Tanner Matthews of Santa Margarita is a backup wide receiver for the football team, and Alex Piecuch of Santa Margarita and Jason Dompke of Mater Dei play for the water polo team.
Mason Kolinchak had the choice of attending Army, Navy or Air Force after a stellar football career at Mater Dei. In February, he chose Army, where he’s currently a freshman offensive lineman for the Black Knights.
“Good people that I can just relate to,” he told the OC Register. “People kind of similar to me. Maybe not the biggest guys. Maybe not even the strongest, but even at Mater Dei, I feel like I earned my spot.”
Zane Rojas of Servite and Morgan Hebard of JSerra play soccer for Army.