Air Force Sports


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May 5, 2007
Dreams of a pro baseball career hinge on Air Force decision (Macon Telegraph)

By Gene Rector -

It's a story that mixes dreams, national security and a rare request, but an Air Force second lieutenant is hoping that a door will open for him to pursue a career in professional baseball.

Karl Bolt must report to Robins Air Force Base by Aug. 4 unless Air Force Secretary Michael Wynn grants a waiver. The Air Force Academy graduate was recently drafted in the 15th round by the Philadelphia Phillies, but the opportunity will slip away, Bolt believes, unless his request gains a favorable ruling.

Academy graduates generally have a five-year active duty commitment, although some football players have received waivers to serve two years on active duty and six years in the reserves.

The two-year part won't work for baseball, contends Bolt. "If you take two years off, you're pretty much done from a skills standpoint," he said by telephone Wednesday from the Phillies' training facility in Clearwater, Fla. "Plus, by then I'd be 23, and interest from major league baseball will be gone. That's why I'm trying to get an exception to policy."

The Stockton, Calif., native is willing to fulfill his commitment in a number of ways - during the offseason, after he finishes his professional career or in the reserves. The request has been filed, he said, and it has the support of academy officials, including Lt. Gen. John Regni, superintendent of the Academy.

"But I'm not sure how it will turn out," confessed the power-hitting first baseman/outfielder. "It looks positive, but I don't know how the secretary will react. I believe it's a win-win opportunity for the Air Force as well as me. I just hope they see it that way, and I get the chance to follow a childhood dream."

Capt. Tom Wenz, an Air Force Pentagon spokesman, confirmed that Bolt's request had been received and was being staffed, although he was not sure how long the decision process would take.

"Typically, requests to the secretary take quite a while," Wenz pointed out Wednesday, "but the offices reviewing it are aware that a quick decision is required. They are doing their best."

Bolt's interest from major league baseball was not unexpected. The four-year Falcons starter completed his senior season at the academy with eight homers, 47 runs batted in and a batting average of .349. He was a first-team, all-Mountain West Conference selection and the academy's most valuable player for the second consecutive year.

Bolt is attending a Phillies mini-camp prior to reporting to his first minor league assignment. He believes that will be the team's Class A, short-season club in Williamsport, Pa. He said he loves pro baseball so far.

"Everything is directed toward getting better as a player," Bolt said. "In college, you're torn in a lot of different directions. Here, there is so much more time. I get a lot of rest, plus you can work at the skills involved. It's a lot of fun and the coaching's really good."

He believes power hitting and a strong throwing arm are his selling points. "Most major league organizations have looked at me as a hitter," Bolt said. "Hopefully I can develop enough to be a decent or well-above average infielder or outfielder. It will just take a lot of hard work."

Robins officials said they would put Bolt to work if his request is denied. "We're looking forward to getting him," Capt. John Robinson said. Robinson is acting operations officer for the 78th Logistics Readiness Squadron where Bolt would be assigned.

The academy graduate could be used in a variety of areas, Robinson said, including fuel and vehicle operations, traffic management, deployment and redeployment.

"We cover the gamut," the operations chief said. "We're focused on our mission and we'd look forward to him being added to our team."

But Robinson also admitted that Bolt's assignment could offer an additional benefit. "We'd definitely have a better softball team," the captain said with a chuckle. "Maybe we'd even win the base championship."
Calhoun Puts The Air Back In Air Force (

By Olin Buchanan, College Football Senior Writer

Olin Buchanan

Air Force football fans might have scratched their heads in wonder during the Falcons' spring game.

Some of the verbal exchanges that might have gone like this:

Q: "Where is the quarterback?"

A: "He's standing a few yards behind center to take a shotgun snap."

Q: "What's a shotgun snap?"

There have been bunch of changes in Colorado Springs, and the biggest one is that Air Force is looking to the skies. That would be expected anywhere else in the world except at Falcon Stadium, where Air Force was grounded in coach Fisher DeBerry's flexbone offense.

However, DeBerry retired last December and was replaced by former Houston Texans offensive coordinator Troy Calhoun - who immediately installed a Spread offense. That's akin to Nebraska shelving the power option system it ran under Tom Osborne to the West Coast offense of Bill Callahan.

In 1990 and 1991, the Falcons' leading receivers caught just eight passes. Air Force has ranked no higher than 98th nationally in pass offense since 1999. Now, Calhoun is throwing caution to the wind. His team will be throwing into the wind - and everywhere else.

"No doubt about it, it's definitely strange," said Shaun Carney, the Falcons' starting quarterback since 2004. "I ran the Spread in high school, so we're doing things I've done in the past. That makes me feel more comfortable.

"I think everyone is really excited. We came out in the spring with a fresh opportunity and everyone attacked it. Guys that didn't get a lot of touches last year will get them this year. That brought the morale of the offense up."

The Falcons needed a morale boost, especially after three consecutive losing seasons.

"It was time for a change," Carney said.

Carney's role in the offense will definitely change.

In his three seasons as Air Force's quarterback, he has completed 268 of 434 passes for 3,900 yards. He has 30 touchdown passes and 16 interceptions.

Just last year USC's John David Booty completed 269 of 436 for 3,347 yards with 29 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

Carney only threw 137 passes last year, and he'll likely exceed that many attempts before the end of September.

"I hope it won't be too long," Carney said. "I'm excited about it. I know coach definitely wants to throw more and take a couple of carries away from me to preserve my body. I'm curious to see how it works out."

No doubt, the Falcons receivers are just as excited and curious.

"They've been glorified linemen out there," Carney said. "But we have guys who can stretch the field."

But can the Falcons, who have managed only 13 wins the last three seasons, stretch out their victory total?

Carney thinks so, but his optimism might be questioned.

When Nebraska changed its offense in 2004 the Cornhuskers finished 5-6, their first losing season in 43 years.

That Nebraska team was comprised of players that were recruited specifically for a power-option offense.

But that's not the case at Air Force. In fact, Carney was a very successful quarterback at St. Edwards High School in North Elmstead, Ohio. He threw for 3,849 yards and 30 touchdowns as a senior.

Besides, he said the Falcons won't completely abandon the flexbone.

"Coach said for that (offense) to be so successful for a long period of time and then to throw it away doesn't make sense," Carney said. "That will make it a lot harder for teams to prepare for us. We're ready to run the Spread, the 'I' and the flexbone.

"Unlike Nebraska which went straight to the West Coast offense, we're still using the flexbone. Anytime we need our bread and butter, we feel like can go back to it."

Olin Buchanan is the senior college football writer for He can be reached at
Former Falcon Nwaelele works out for Nuggets

Nuggets vice president of player personnel Rex Chapman believes recent Air Force graduate Dan Nwaelele will “make a living playing basketball for a long time.”

But standing in Nwaelele’s way – at least for the next two seasons – is not only the highly competitive world of professional basketball but also his post-graduate military commitment to the Air Force....
Calhoun Comfortable In Charge (Denver Post)

Calhoun comfortable in charge
By Irv Moss
Denver Post Staff Writer

Air Force Academy - The departure and arrival ceremonies are over, and Troy Calhoun is sitting firmly in the head football coach's chair at Air Force.

After 23 years of Fisher DeBerry at the helm, Calhoun slowly and surely is changing the guard of Air Force football. He's not nervous about following the DeBerry legend, and welcomes the former coach's influence. But there's no question Calhoun is bringing a new, youthful exuberance to the program and that he is in charge.

"This is a very challenging but also motivating place," Calhoun said last week during a brief break from the academy's summer sports camp program. "We're all wondering what's going to happen this first season. But that's why you put the shoulder pads on and find out."

Calhoun, 39, left a promising coaching career in the NFL when his alma mater called. When DeBerry departed, he said Calhoun, a former AFA quarterback who graduated from the academy in 1989, was his choice to succeed him as well.

"It's humbling," Calhoun said of sitting in DeBerry's former chair. "Candidly, he's a guy whose influence you want to be around here forever. I want to do everything I possibly can to make sure the imprint of Fisher DeBerry is carried through from squad to squad, from generation to generation."

DeBerry compiled a 169-109-1 record as Air Force's head coach. But the Falcons went 4-8 last year, their third consecutive losing season. Calhoun said there is some rebuilding to do, and it starts with recruiting.

"We completely evaluated the program and there will be some changes made in how we play on both sides of the ball," he said. "We have to get to the point where we have a chance to win more Mountain West Conference games and we have to be more consistent in Falcon Stadium in terms of how we compete against the other service academies (Army and Navy)."

Calhoun is making some tall orders. Air Force's best record in eight seasons in the MWC was 2000, when it won five league games. The Falcons haven't defeated Army or Navy at Falcon Stadium in the past three seasons.

When Air Force begins its season Sept. 1 against South Carolina State at Falcon Stadium, DeBerry's triple-option offense will be history.

"We won't have 50, 60 running plays," Calhoun said. "We want to boil our running game down to utilize some motion and different formations. We want to be a zone running team that runs some option."

Defensively, Calhoun sees the Falcons playing more aggressively, doing a better job stopping third-down conversions and creating more turnovers.

"You can create some spunk and energy within your team by being an attacking defense," Calhoun said.

Calhoun plans to get the job done at Air Force with a dedicated coaching staff that understands the academy's mission and a hard-nosed style of play.

"This is a no-frills place in football," Calhoun said. "We're not worried about having fancy shoelaces. We want our trademark stamped on Air Force football."

Calhoun's transition from the NFL to Air Force was hectic. His final game as an assistant coach with the Houston Texans was Dec. 31. He was on the job at Air Force the next day.

Calhoun quickly put together a coaching staff that includes many former Air Force players. Some were on DeBerry's staff.

"I love the staff that we were able to put together," Calhoun said. "This is a remarkable institution. You find incredible young people here who are motivated, competitive and team-oriented.
COMMENT: At Air Force, going no-huddle should be a no-brainer

Football huddles aren’t a complete waste of time, just close to it.

Here’s a good reason to admire Air Force coach Troy Calhoun. He has an aversion to huddles.

The team’s defense is the lone obstacle to a no-huddle offense for Calhoun’s Falcons. If Air Force defenders can stifle opposing offenses — a huge if — the Falcons will seldom, if ever, indulge in planning sessions between plays....