Air Force Academy awaits football all-star
David Ortiz has three more practice sessions with the ASCO Football Classic all-stars.
He’ll spend the next two days prepping for the all-star game, along with five of his Frenship teammates, for the 7 p.m. kickoff Saturday at Cooper’s Pirate Stadium.
The practice pales in comparison to what he’ll be doing in 21 days.
The 18-year-old will be in Jacks Valley, the Air Force Academy’s first boot camp for new cadets.
“I want to help people. I want to serve my country,” Ortiz said. “What better way to do that then join the military?”
Ortiz served as the starting center for Frenship, as well as a co-captain this season. He’s the only player going on to Division-I football from this year’s District 3-4A championship team.
Ortiz’s grandfather, Dan Pena, lives near the base in Colorado Springs, Colo., and has always spoke highly of the school, even though Pena himself is a Navy veteran.
During his sophomore and junior seasons, on visits to his grandfather’s home in Colorado, Ortiz said he fell in love with the Academy. The discipline. The mentality. The lifestyle.
“It’s not just the college choice, it’s the lifestyle choice,” Ortiz said. “And for me, I was looking at the big picture. I was looking beyond just having fun in college.”
Applying to Air Force — as well as any of the other service academies — is not the same as filling out the Texas Common App.
It’s a multi-year process requiring physical and mental strength.
Pena, a former high school guidance counselor, knows the rigors of getting into the Academy, as 30,000 prospective cadets apply each year.
From there, about 4,000 are chosen. About half won’t make it, Pena said.
Ortiz needed a recommendation from a congressman, United States senator or the vice president for the application process. Rep. Randy Neugebauer, R-Lubbock, nominated Ortiz, along with two other service academy appointees.
Ortiz also needed to pass a handful of timed fitness tests, as well as meet the grade standards for the university.
“It’s definitely a long process and it does get tiring, but you hang through it. You tough it out and it’s so worth it in the end,” Ortiz said. “It’s definitely not like a normal college admissions process.”
Playing football for Frenship certainly didn’t hurt him in the process, said Ortiz, who was recruited to play center, and maybe a little bit of fullback in the Falcons’ option attack.
“It helped me so much,” Ortiz said of his four years of Tiger football. “I had a step up from other applicants around because there weren’t very many football players applying this year. I had an extra hand in the Frenship football program, its not easy stuff. They prepared me and had me in pretty good shape.”
Since the end of the football season, Ortiz has tried to maintain his strength and condition for the upcoming football season. He said he was sent workout packets from the school, which he has followed.
Jacks Valley, though, is a little harder to prepare for, he said.
“I don’t know what training could probably get you ready for what we’re about to get into,” said the aspiring pilot (he’s taking soaring lessons later this summer to get his first taste of the sky.)
Frenship football coach Brad Davis said Ortiz is exactly the kind of person who the Academy needs.
“David is such an intelligent person,” Davis said. “He is unbelievably smart, and he’s the ideal kid to be playing center for your football team because of his intelligence and his passion for football. You can’t beat that.”
But for now, Ortiz is just reveling in getting to play one last game with his teammates. He also hopes to get a chance to play defensive end so he can harass the quarterback he protected all year, Tucker Tuberville.
“It’s going to be a great experience, one last time with a couple of the Frenship Tigers,” Ortiz said. “I’ll get a little taste of what’s on the next level.”
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