Former Longhorn baseball, football star and honors graduate Bryan Zumbro returned to his roots this Thanksgiving.
Now a third-year cadet at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Zumbro spent some of his free time in the Rim country extolling the virtues of academy life and visiting with old friends, teachers and coaches.
As part of his Air Force studies, Zumbro made military presentations to students at several nearby high schools including Heber-Overgaard, Mogollon, Snowflake, and his alma mater, Payson.
He also took time out to visit Rim Country Middle School, where he first starred in football as a member of the Mavericks’ undefeated 1995 White Mountain League Championship team.
While visiting an RCMS eighth-grade algebra class he once attended, Zumbro told the wide-eyed pupils it was there he first became interested in math.
After leaving RCMS, Zumbro graduated third in the PHS class of 2000 and earned a scholarship to the Air Force Academy.
Zumbro also told the eighth-grade students it was his goal to someday become an Air Force fighter pilot.
Responding to questions from the RCMS students, Zumbro vividly described what his first experience in a supersonic fighter jet was like.
He relived the thrill of a jarring take off and landing as well as the G-forces that pilots must learn to deal with. He also described the preparations, precautions and training the Air Force required for him to fly in the jet.
Last summer as part of the academy curriculum, Zumbro trained in an F-16 at Luke Air Force Base.
While Zumbro is now focused on academic success and earning a commissioned officer second lieutenant ranking, he told the RCMS students his love for baseball is as great as ever.
At Payson High School, he pitched the Longhorns to the school’s only state baseball championship.
At the Air Force Academy, he is a member of the Falcons’ baseball team.
Zumbro described a typical day in his life as an Air Force cadet: rising before the sun appears over the horizon, attending classes, participating in military drills, training in baseball practices and doing homework into the late night hours.
At the Air Force Academy, Zumbro has earned the rank of sergeant major and is responsible for the welfare of a squadron of cadets.