Application and Sports

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by ParkCore, Jul 14, 2015.

  1. ParkCore

    ParkCore Member

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    Hello all,

    I hope everyone is having a good day. I have a question that has been bothering me quite a bit lately. Currently, I'm an incoming junior. I didn't play any sports sophomore year because I wanted to focus on school and flying. I made a 3.8 GPA in all of the most advanced classes my school offers. I have my solo license for flying and have been flying for 4 years now, and I also do maintenance on the aircraft at the local flight school. I'm working on my A&P license.

    My question to you is this: Will not having a varsity letter this year and not playing a sport last year hurt me?

    While I said I focused on school and flying, there's more to the story. I maintained a constant bodybuilding workout and stayed in the best of shape I could. I currently wake up at 5 a.m. and workout at the local boxing gym.

    Here's my predicament: I'm considering dropping the sport that I have a varsity letter in. I received a varsity letter in wrestling freshman year. The reason for my leaving is that I have the opportunity to train in Muay Thai, Knife Fighting, Budo Taijutsu, Combatives, and several other types of fighting. This isn't a team and it isn't through my school, therefore I will not receive a letter nor will I have the opportunity to be a captain as there is no such team.

    What are your thoughts? I'm not trying to checkbox and do only for the Academy. I know someone will say that. I don't want to hurt my chances because I don't have a letter or a leadership position in sports though. Could anyone give some guidance? I'm sure someone else is in a similar situation too.

    Thank you all in advance!
     
  2. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    I won't say good, bad, yes, no, or anything similar. You need to decide for yourself.

    But what I will say, is that the main reason the academy looks so importantly at sports, has very LITTLE to do with physical fitness. Almost nothing to do with fitness. As such, don't try and convince yourself that weightlifting and staying in shape is any sort of substitute. They have very little in common. Now, when you say you go to the local boxing gym, do you box? Or is it simply a place to work out on speed bags, jumping rope, etc.?

    Again, I'll let others give their opinions on the sports you do or don't do. I'm simply saying that the sports/athletics the academy are looking for, have very little to do with fitness and being in shape. If it did have a correlation, there'd be almost no reason to have individuals take the CFA.
     
  3. ParkCore

    ParkCore Member

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    @Christcorp I go to the boxing gym to box. They have several classes and I go in the afternoons often to box. In the mornings, however, I weightlift/bodybuild.
     
  4. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    I'm still not going to comment on what to do with athletics, but I felt I left the previous post incomplete. So below is a portion of a post from a representative of the NCAA to a number of high level universities who were talking smack about athletics and wasting valuable resources on sports vs academics and other school functions and activities. This individual wanted to emphasize why athletics is so important. Not just in college, but IN LIFE!!! The military academies, feel the same way. There are so many commonalities between athletics/sports and the military.

    Anyway, here's a lit of reasons the NCAA as well as the academies believe that "Organized Team Sports" are so important IN LIFE!

    "
    What does athletics teach individuals:
    Attention to detail , Awareness of diversity, Challenging yourself , Commitment, Communication, Competition , Confidence , Cooperation , Coordination , Decision making , Dedication, Determination , Diligence, Discipline, Endurance, Fitness, Flexibility, Focus, Following plans/directions, Give/take feedback and criticism, Goal-directed, Improvement, Integrity, Individual/group effort, Keeping records, Leadership, Learning from failure, Management, Multitasking, Organization, Overcome obstacles, Pain/fatigue management, Patience,Performance, Persistence, Positive attitude, Prioritizing, Problem solving,Punctuality, Pursuit of excellence, Respect, Responsibility, Scheduling, Self-directed, Self-esteem, Set goals, Strategies, Stress management, Supervision, Tactics (offense/defense), Teaching, Teamwork , Thinking on your feet, Time management, Training motivation, Work ethic."
     
  5. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    Boxing is a sport. It's athletics. You'll see by my previous post the "REASON' for athletics in the eyes of the academy. It's not just about fitness.
     
  6. 7ez

    7ez Member

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    I am just a candidate for the class of 2020, so I am by no means an expert. First, you can and should do what interests you. If continuing your current regime gives you more passion than continuing wrestling then do that. However know the opportunity costs involved. You will have less points for your WCS than if you continued to do wrestling. Now assuming you have solid academics and good ECs you may be able to compensate for that (just know that others will most likely have similar if not better stats and still have been able to do varsity sports throughout high school). However, take it from someone who has done absolutely no formal sports in high school. I regret it. I regret it not only because of the certain drop in my WCS but for the fact that I missed out on a lot of camaraderie. Sure I was involved in a lot of ECs and have leadership positions in all of them. But look at what Christcorp is stating: athletics are so much more than a physical activity.

    So this may sound contradictory; I advise you do try to find a way to fit in a varsity sport (try to maintain that and keep your current regime as well). At the end of the day, though, if you are comfortable with your prospects then do what you are more passionate about. I just wish I would have done varsity sports. Good job thinking ahead; I hope it works out for you!

    -Someone correct me if I am wrong as well, but doesn't USAFA only look at 10-12th activities/sports. So your varsity letter from freshmen year won't count on your USAFA application, but it still can/will be a factor for nomination packets.
     
  7. USMAROTCFamily

    USMAROTCFamily Member

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    I'll say it; I think you should stay in Wrestling and try to become the Captain of the team. Yes, that will help your packet and the combative training will not have any real impact.
     
  8. fencersmother

    fencersmother Founding Member

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    If you can compete in boxing, or in this fighting sport, do so; don't just practice. Compete. Win locals, regionals, states, nationals.

    There is a boxing team at USAFA (or was).
     
  9. MombaBomba

    MombaBomba Member

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    My son and others were very involved in sports that did not exist at their schools. It's not about the sport existing at your school, so much as the dedication, development, drive, commitment, accomplishment and leadership you exercised in those sports. I can't tell you if this is or isn't the right decision for you. The only thing I can tell you is that sports are about more than earning a Varsity letter. Some schools automatically give a varsity letter if you are a junior or senior, while others make you earn it via tryouts etc. From our experience, it is not so much what you do but what you end up doing with it. If you have discovered your passion later in life as opposed to middle school or earlier, that isn't a bad thing. Also, trying something new isn't necessarily a bad thing either. Sometimes, we have to give up something to gain something. It really is about what you do with this opportunity and what it means to you. The question is do you believe being able to check the box for Varsity Wrestling all years of high school is more beneficial or less. But I would hazard a guess that if you don't have other leadership experience on your resume, then maybe sticking with wrestling and looking to become a captain may help you. The academy looks at the complete picture, not just a check box.
     
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  10. frenzymando

    frenzymando Banned

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    I have talked to quite a few appointees(now cadets) on this forum and I have only encountered one that didn't have a varsity letter. However, in the rest of the areas of his application he simply killed it. He had a 36 ACT, he was in the top 1% of his class, he had lots of leadership roles, he went to boys state etc. He
     
  11. MombaBomba

    MombaBomba Member

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    The problem with talking to appointees/current cadets on this forum is it is a very small sample of those accepted into the academy. The other thing to think about is that the number of home schoolers applying and being accepted at colleges and service academies are growing. Many of them don't have access to their local school sports in order to earn a varsity letter. So what exactly are they doing to make them so attractive to both civilian colleges and service academies? This is a serious question that is being examined by home schoolers, colleges and public schools.

    The best sources of information regarding the need for varsity letters are the ALOs who are active on this forum and take time out to answer questions. My impression is that it is a package deal and that it is about more than just having achieved a Varsity letter. The one point that I think they all make is that the applicant should be striving towards excellence in whatever their chosen activities/passions.
     
  12. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    I would add to talk to their ALO too because the fact is a lot also has to do with where you live and the candidate pool. That appointee/cadet competed against a totally different pool than the pool you will be competing against. Last year that 1 with no sports could have been the superstar, lived in a state that is not considered competitive, and got a principal, whereas, you live in a state where the MoCs don't talk and do not give principals.
    ~ Flieger and Mike live in 2 different states. Their candidates could look different. However, ALOs are trained so they do have more insight into the big picture compared to cadets and appointees on this forum.

    I would be very careful of painting broad brush strokes regarding any stats from years prior because the way the system works, instead when you meet with your ALO talk to them. They are going to know exactly the competition for your local area, even home school kids will be assigned to an ALO.

    I get Park you are a rising junior, so it maybe too early, but you can always try to send them an email to just ask that quick question. Please understand the ALO position is a volunteer job. They have another one that pays their bills, plus family obligations, on top of their candidates for 2020. DSs ALO had 16 candidates. It kept him pretty busy.
     
  13. Stealth_81

    Stealth_81 Super Moderator Moderator Founding Member

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    You asked for opinions, so here it goes.

    Yes, dropping your school sport will hurt your chances. There is a reason that +/- 85% of appointees have varsity athletics. As Christcorp said above, the team athletics for appointees is less about the fitness and more about showing that you can work on a team, have goals, and excel at those goals. The knife fighting training might sound cool, but it does nothing to show the Academy that you can work with others toward a common goal.

    Time management is also a big part of showing that you can handle the Academy. Making excuses that you couldn't do a sport because you were flying doesn't cut it in my opinion. The people who you are competing against will have found a way to have great grades, maintain activities and leadership, and also do sports. Those who get appointments without a varsity sports letter have something else that makes them great and is in addition to the other requirements for USAFA. Such things as national recognition for an achievement or leading a large event or organization.

    How badly do you want to get into USAFA? Do what it takes.

    Stealth_81
     
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  14. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    Just an FYI. We have a lot of homeschooled and private schooled kids that don't have a lot of "SCHOOL" sports options. But I have found that there are ALWAYS options for sports/athletics at the team level. There's city/town soccer leagues, summer baseball leagues, winter basketball leagues, YMCA leagues, Church leagues, American Legion leagues, etc. Granted, I have some towns where the population of the TOWN is about 210 people. Where kids have the least opportunities for school sports. But even they find some options such as a saturday church league.

    Not saying the OP isn't already involved. He mentioned boxing. That's good. The academy wants to see you involved in competitive athletics. They want to see you building teamwork skills. They want to see you grow and mature in these activities; and hopefully gain leadership experience in them also. Varsity sports in mentioned more often because the majority of applicants DO have this option for athletics. The majority of applicants go to a somewhat traditional school with numerous activities. But that's not to say that's the only option you have. Just make sure you make the best out of the options you do have. What the academy, and especially ALO's DON'T WANT TO HEAR, are EXCUSES. There's always something out there. Whether it's athletics, academics, leadership, etc. We care about what you have available, and what you do with it. We don't want to hear why you DIDN'T do something when it WAS available.
     
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  15. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Mike this is so true, and also true for public HS kids.

    My DS was in a public HS, but took the other route for sports. He started TKD in 7th grade. He competed on the state and national level for years. USAFA accepted that as a sport.
    ~ I think it was because he competed nationally and it was not just pay a monthly membership fee.

    They also came back and asked for a letter from his boss to move his job over to the athletics portion. He was a lifeguard at the Y with 23 saves over a 18 month period. They asked his boss to state in a letter what the physical requirements were for lifeguards.
    ~ It was diving in a pool and retrieving an object from the 10 foot end, exiting with out the ladder within 60 seconds. It also required saving a dummy in the same time. I think the dummy weighed 160 lbs. DS weighed 140 lbs. It was done on a monthly basis for keeping up certifications.
    ~~ The RD had told him that because he placed 23 saves on his job side, they wanted more info from the boss. They wanted to see if the job could also be seen as a sport. Thus, the need to have his boss explain their program to see if it was comparable to a sport in their eyes. Until that time I didn't think 23 saves was a biggie since he worked 40 hours a week in the summer and 20 during the school year. It was basically 1.5 saves a month. Came to find out later on that it is a big amount of saves.
    ~~ Everytime there is a save you have to file a report. His boss also submitted for verification that he did have 23 saves.

    I do not know if they did move it to athletics or kept it as an EC, but I am saying this to illustrate how USAFA looks at the outside of the box aka traditional HS sports.

    I hope that from my anecdotal experience you can see that they do look outside of the box. I want to say, but not sure that Hornetguys sport was also only TKD, and competed on a national level. I know fencers were homeschooled and 1 twin was recruited for guess what? Fencing.
     
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  16. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    You forgot to add 1 more thing. Dedication over the long term. It shows them you don't just quit because you are tired of losing. You stay because you can't let the team down. It is not just you, it is everybody that depends on you. It says to them that I am that blow up Bozo the Clown that you punch....or maybe a Weebles. (Weebles wobble, but they don't fall down). With every loss, you still come back and believe tomorrow is a new day to prove yourself.

    It takes a dedicated person to stay game after game, year after year playing in the rain, cold or heat on the team that is the very worst in the district with more losses than wins. It shows insight into your personality using history to predict the future.
     
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  17. fencersmother

    fencersmother Founding Member

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    Frenzy, you were pretty quick with that "I know of only one kid" - and maybe you weren't paying attention. The fencerschildren, all homeschooled, were fencers, a sport that did not exist in our family homeschool or in any of our local schools. They competed at the national level winning medals, titles, etc. and put in many many hours at the studio, which was almost an hour from our home.

    Please do not be so quick, as an applicant or pre-candidate, or even candidate, to make such blanket statements. And please, do not be quick so quick to draw the "it's not a school sport so it doesn't count" gun.

    There are many kids at all the SAs without a "varsity letter" but who have put in hundreds and thousands of hours, dedicated to the sport(s) of their own choosing. My kids went 5 days a week, year round (no off season in their sport), plus travel (since we live in a fencing backwater), plus tournaments, plus plus plus.

    Both twins fenced for USAFA on the Div I level; one for one year. He then moved to Nordic skiing which was, um guess-what!? - not a school sport here, and as a firstie, was captain of that club team which went to the collegiate Nationals. The other guy stuck it out with fencing for three years, then opted to move on and concentrate on his squadron activities and on his GPA which he wanted to boost.
     
  18. ParkCore

    ParkCore Member

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    Thanks all for all of the replies! I appreciate the input and this was a learning process. Freshman year I played football and was a varsity 145 for the wrestling team. I didn't do any sports sophomore year for the reasons I mentioned above. While it's a decision I regret and would go back and make it work if I could, it was a decision. Is there any chance to come back from this, being that I'm a junior now and will be wrestling varsity this year as well as running track (possibly varsity)?
     
  19. frenzymando

    frenzymando Banned

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    I never made any blanket statement. All I said is I only know one person on this forum that got in without a varsity letter. I don't know your kids. I don't know the majority of the people on this forum. I don't know the majority of appointees. But of the people I do know on this forum that got appointed, only one of them got in without a varsity letter, and he did amazingly in the rest of the parts of his application.
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2015
  20. fencersmother

    fencersmother Founding Member

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    I do think your decision will ultimately hurt your chances, though by how much, who can say?

    Now, all you can do is show some real dedication - though it may just appear to be resume-enhancement at this point.

    I might suggest your decision process for an essay question "Things I regret" or whatever the topic is this year.
     

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