Friday, April 03, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Red Devils’ kicking Cadet

Leader sportswriter

Jacksonville High School senior John Herrmann has been an example in the classroom and on the playing field throughout his time at JHS, and after he graduates in May, he’ll continue his journey to success at the United States Military Academy at West Point this summer.

Herrmann, a dual-sport athlete lettering in both football and soccer, has been brought up in a military family. His father was in the Air Force, and his brother, Ryan, is a 2013 West Point graduate.

The process of getting admitted into West Point, which is located in upstate New York, is full of various challenges. Having high grades and tests scores, and passing a plethora of fitness tests is a must, but Herrmann has done all of those things.

He’s currently ranked second in his class at JHS with a current grade point average of around 4.67, and his cumulative GPA is around 4.23. On his ACT test, Herrmann has scored a 26, and his superscore, which takes the highest subscores from various test dates, is a 27.

Those scores along with Herrmann’s high fitness tests scores have earned him a full-paid academic scholarship at West Point, and the chance to follow in his brother’s footsteps at the prestigious military academy. It’s been a goal of his to attend West Point ever since seventh grade, when he first visited the school.

“It’s been a goal probably since my brother entered,” said Herrmann. “When I went up there to see him, it just really spoke to me – the campus. From then, that’s what I wanted to do, and I stuck to my grades and just kept going for it.”

Having a brother that’s been to and graduated from the prestigious school is something that Herrmann said helped him through the process of applying and, eventually, being granted his scholarship worth roughly $500,000 in tuition and room and board.

“It helped a lot,” Herrmann said. “He told me how to start it, and what I needed to put in. With him graduating, it actually helps me because it shows that if one kid already did it, another could possibly do it.”

Herrmann said he plans to major in civil engineering at West Point – something he’s passionate about – and he added that he may do jump school as well, which is paratrooper training.

“I want to major in civil engineering, which is my passion,” Herrmann said. “I love to see bridges built and any infrastructure built. Also, I want to maybe do jump school. During summers you have to go and do training, and one of them is jump school.

“I’ve always wanted to jump out of planes. Plus, the job I want to do, which is combat engineering, there might be chances I have to jump out of an airplane to go into a combat zone and then build a bridge or whatever they tell us to build. So maybe that’ll carry over into my future job that I’m hoping to get.”

Herrmann’s future appears bright, no doubt. But for now, he’s enjoying his time as a senior at JHS, including the athletic side of it. Herrmann was the kicker on the Red Devils’ football team for the past three years, and has been a captain on the soccer team for the last two.

At the end of the football season, Herrmann was named first team All-Conference for his stellar kicking efforts. He made 27 of 30 extra point attempts this past season, and 4 of 5 field goals with a long of 47 yards.

In soccer last season, he was selected to both the All-State and All-Conference teams, leading the team with five goals scored in 2014, including four assists. Herrmann says he prefers soccer of the two sports, but said he doesn’t think he’ll attempt to play soccer at the next level.

Instead, Herrmann will try to walk-on to the Army football team as a kicker for the Black Knights. But even if he doesn’t make the team, he’ll get the opportunity to take part in competitive club sports that’ll be a requirement for team exercise building.

“Either way, you still get your sports incorporated,” Herrmann said.

Although he’s finished with his football career at JHS, Herrmann still has a soccer season to finish. He remains a top contributor on the Red Devils’ soccer team – a team that won its first three games of the 2015 season.

Even though he mostly plays as a defensive wing, Herrmann is one of the more versatile players on the team, having played just about every position on the field at one point or another for second-year head coach Adam Thrash, who had plenty of positive things to say about his senior captain.

“He’s just one of those kids that when you need something done, he gets it done,” said Thrash. “There’s no ‘I can’t do it.’ He’s one of those that if I have a son, I hope he can live up to what John Herrmann has shown and done in his life.

“He wants to lead and do it the right way. Sixteen and 17 year olds, they don’t always want to do it the right way. But he’s always done it the right way. He works hard at everything he does.

“He’s just a natural leader and he’s the heart and soul of our team. He really is.”

Balancing school and extracurricular activities can be tough at times, Herrmann admits, and he said time management and a strict routine are the keys to doing both to the best of his abilities.

When he does have free time, Herrmann says he spends most of it working on his art projects, which is also school-related. At last year’s state art competition, Herrmann placed first overall in three different categories.

There’s no doubt that plenty of challenges will await Herrmann when he arrives at West Point later this summer, but he says he looks forward to those challenges.

“I love challenges,” Herrmann said. “If it’s a challenge, I’m just going to hit it hard and go for it.”

As far as his thoughts on his time at JHS, though it’s not over yet, it’s a time that Herrmann will cherish – a time he describes as a fun one with many learning opportunities.

“It’s been fun,” Herrmann said. “I’ve built a lot of relationships with teachers and friends – a lot of learning opportunities, definitely. It’s been fun.”