AUBURN, Ala. (WRBL)—Amongst 12 Alabama students who accepted appointments to service academies are two Auburn athletes who will both move over 1,000 miles away to pursue military careers. Patrick Davidson, 18, will attend the United States Air Force Academy just outside of Colorado Springs, while Cade Waggoner, 19, starts at the United States Military Academy (USMA) at West Point.
“I’ve always kind of been interested in the military,” Davidson said. He explained that he does not come from a family with a military background but was attracted to the honor and history behind a career in the armed forces.
“I want to go make a difference for our country because I think I owe it to our country to do that,” said Davidson, who cited the Boston Marathon bombings which occurred in April of 2013 as a moment which lit a spark in him to serve.
A baseball player throughout his career at Auburn High School, Davidson mentioned that being able to get a higher education while playing Division I baseball for the Air Force Academy was also a draw.
“It’s a dream come true to me,” Waggoner said about his appointment.
Waggoner was a lineman for Lee-Scott Academy in high school. Though his senior year attempt at receiving an appointment to USMA ended when he tore his ACL, Waggoner spent the past school year at Auburn University. There, he studied mechanical engineering while rehabilitating his knee and training with Auburn’s ROTC program in preparation for this year’s appointment process.
While Waggoner said that he plans to continue his degree in mechanical engineering at USMA, at the moment, he is unsure if football lies in the future.
“Every cadet has to participate in some sport, whether that is club, intramural or NCAA. I plan on playing a club sport, but I’m not sure which one yet,” said Waggoner, who added that he would love to try out for the football team as a long snapper but does not know if he will be able to walk on.
Waggoner urged students interested in service academies not to let setbacks stop them. He said, “Don’t quit. If something happens, then definitely do not quit. Push through, grow yourself, make yourself stronger physically and mentally and it will pay off right.”
According to Davidson, his favorite classes in high school were history and literature, especially when those pertained to World War II. As a cadet at the Air Force Academy, he plans to earn a major in military strategic studies.
Despite the students’ excitement to begin careers at their respective academies, they admitted that there would also be challenges to come.
“The day I get on campus, I’m gonna raise my hand to die for this country, so that’s kind of a tough pill to swallow for my mom and dad,” said Davidson, who commented that his parents have been incredibly supportive of his decision.
About his new duties, Davidson said, “You kind of gotta grow up and really like take some responsibility out there so I think the biggest challenge honestly should be learning how to take on all that stuff… and [make] every minute count on doing the task at hand.”
Both students will complete basic training upon arriving at their service academies, which includes extremely limited communication with home. Cadets oftentimes are required to give up their cell phones during this process.
“I’m not sure how I’m going to do that yet because I’ve never had to do it before,” said Waggoner about the combination of being so far from home – he has never been on a plane before – and being unable to communicate with his family. He continued on and said, “I’m planning on it being alright. It’ll be worth it.”