By Eve Rosen
Out of thousands of applicants to the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado, three students from Wellington — Zach Beatty, Wyatt Boswell and Mikey Garofalo — were nominated and admitted into the prestigious institution.
Beatty and Boswell just graduated from Wellington High School, while Garofalo attended Palm Beach Central High School. They have known each other before they were admitted into the Air Force Academy. Beatty is a lifeguard at the Wellington Aquatics Complex, which is where he met Boswell, and Garofalo and Boswell played recreational football together when they were six years old.
Garofalo plans on playing football at the academy, while Boswell has his eyes on the swim team.
“I started off just playing football, but when I first got recruited, it was like ‘make a decision on what college you want to go to,’ and there were some football programs that were thrown into the air. I thought about it, regardless of football, because football isn’t going to last forever,” Garofalo said.
The boys went through an extensive application process that included five personal statements, at least one senatorial or congressional nomination, and they needed to pass the CFA, which is the Cadet Fitness Assessment. This determined their physical fitness level for the academy.
“Don’t be [intimidated] by the application process because I know that was probably one of the things for me. It’s just so much stuff you have to do,” Boswell said. “Just keep going, cause ultimately, when you get accepted, everything is worth it.”
Each of the students plan on making the U.S. Air Force into their career. Beatty hopes to become involved in politics after, hopefully, making the rank of a four-star general. Garofalo plans on majoring in business and working on acquisitions for the business side of the Air Force. Boswell’s goal is to become a pilot and to eventually make the rank of general.
“I want to be in the Air Force for at least 30 to 40 years, to try and make the rank of a four-star general. After my military career, retire and get into politics, hopefully,” Beatty said.
Boswell decided in his junior year of high school that he wanted to join the Air Force Academy.
“I originally wanted to go to the U.S. Naval Academy, but I was told that if I wanted to fly, then you should go to the Air Force,” Boswell said. “I’ve wanted to be a pilot since I was a kid. I have pictures of me after the planes landed, of me hanging out in the cockpit with the pilots.”
Garofalo knew he wanted to join the Air Force Academy when he was recruited in high school. Beatty knew he was going to apply since he was a little kid, since he comes from a military family.
The U.S. Air Force Academy is located in Colorado Springs, Colo., which is a big change for the students from Florida. All of them know that it will be cold there much of the year and are preparing in advance to adjust to the change, including sudden temperature shifts.
“One time we were outside practicing at the prep school, and we were sweating, but later that day we were freezing because it started snowing about two hours later,” Garofalo recalled.
The three students have the support of their parents and have all had family members who have served in the military.