Zumbro Leaves For Boot Camp

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Bryan Zumbro harbors few misconceptions about what life will be like as a plebe at the Air Force Academy.

"I'll be the low guy on the food chain," he said.

Zumbro received his first taste of military life as a lowly first-year cadet Thursday morning on the campus of the USAF Academy located near Colorado Springs, Colo. He and his fellow plebes reported for duty as members of the Class of 2004.

Military officials told him prior to his departure from Payson that his first weeks of training would include a traditional boot camp on the academy campus.

After the initial phase, he and his classmates will relocate to Jack's Valley about five miles away from the academy grounds to continue boot camp.

During basic training, academy rules prohibit Zumbro from receiving mail but he can send it, he said.

As part of the military orientation, Zumbro will not be allowed see his family parents Michael and Valarie, and sister Brenna until Labor Day weekend. Then a parents' day will be hosted on the academy campus.

Zumbro says he realizes boot camp will be a test of his physical and mental toughness but said he's looking forward to the challenge.

Once classes begin in September, the PHS graduate will enroll in the standard curriculum that will be heavily loaded with math, science and military tactics courses.

After his sophomore year at the academy Zumbro will make a decision on his major, which he expects will probably be computer science.

Since he was in elementary school, Zumbro has excelled in technology. At Payson High, he maintained a 4.146 grade point average while taking advanced placement classes in algebra, calculus, geometry and computer sciences.

During graduation exercises in May, Air Force Col. Kathy Swan awarded the 17-year-old a $305,000 four-year scholarship to the academy. If all goes as planed, he will graduate as an Air Force officer in four years.

He also could leave the academy with a pilot's license, or any number of other qualifications which would help him follow up his academy time by attending flight school.

Also, during his stint in Colorado Springs, Zumbro will receive an advantage few other students have he'll be earning a salary of $7,000 per year, which is part of his scholarship package.

Swan said Zumbro was a perfect fit for the academy.

"He was an easy choice ... we only select from the top three percent of national high school graduates and Bryan is particularly good."

She also tagged him "a terrific leader ... He's academically excellent and athletically superior. I was very impressed with him."

The athletics

At Payson High School, Zumbro was a four-year football and baseball star for the Longhorns with all-region and all-state honors in both sports.

At the Academy, he plans to continue his baseball career but says he realizes sports will be put on hold during boot camp.

After Labor Day and the start of the school year, he'll report to Falcons' team coach Reed Peters to begin fall ball.

Pitching coach Bobby Applegate originally recruited Zumbro as a hurler, but lately Air Forces coaches have hinted that he might be counted on more for his hitting ability, he said. And that's okay with Zumbro, he said he enjoys the offensive side of the game and has confidence he can succeed on the Division One level.

At Payson High, he was one of the most proficient hitters in the history of the baseball program. As a senior, he led the team in hitting with a whopping .440 average. He also could hit for power as evidenced by his eight doubles, two triples and eight circuit blasts.

He led the team in RBIs (38), hits (37) and runs scored (33).

The thought of playing his favorite sport on the collegiate level excites Zumbro.

"It's something I've wanted to do since Little League and now I'll finally do it," he said. "I couldn't be happier about that."

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