"Bryan Zumbro was an easy choice," said Col. Kathy Swan of the United States Air Force Academy. "We only select from the top 3 percent of national high school graduates, and Bryan is particularly good."
Zumbro, a 17-year-old Payson High School senior, was awarded a $305,000 four-year scholarship this week to attend the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., from which he will graduate as an officer.
"I'm pretty excited," said Zumbro, who lives in Payson with his parents, Michael and Valarie, and sister Brenna. "I'm a baseball recruit, and I'll be playing Division 1 baseball for the academy, so I couldn't be happier about that."
In his sophomore year, Zumbro was named Second Team All-State for baseball; held the state record for RBIs; and was one home-run short of the state record.
In his junior year, he was named First Team All Conference and First Team All State. During both of those years, and in 1999, he was named AIA scholar athlete for both baseball and football.
Zumbro, who leaves PHS with a 4.122 grade-point average, will arrive at the academy June 29, and start his first day of basic training July 1.
He has already met his coaches and toured the campus. The visit prepared him for the next four years, which Zumbro predicted will be "real rough, baseball-wise and academically."
Zumbro will be earning a salary of $7,000 a year, which is part of his scholarship package. He could walk away from graduation with a pilot's license, parachuting and glider experience, or any number of other qualifications that will forward his plan to attend flight school after the academy.
Col. Swan, who personally selected Zumbro, said that a field of 40,000 national applicants was whittled down to 1,000 scholarship recipients across the country.
"Bryan's a terrific leader, and that is, of course, what the Air Force Academy is looking for," Swan said. "In addition to that, we're looking for well-rounded people, and Bryan certainly is that. He's academically excellent and athletically superior; he seems to be involved in every athletic event in Payson. I was very impressed with him."
Other PHS academic award winners include: Wesley Sprinkle who earned the University of Arizona's John P. Schaefer Scholarship; Stacy Horsley who won Northern Arizona University's Emerging Scholar award; and Mary Mendoza who won Arizona State University's Medallion of Merit Scholar award.