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Football player has heart set on going to West Point

Tommy Gascoigne would be the first to say that applying for any service academy is a life-altering experience. Regardless, if he makes it into West Point the whole experience has been a positive journey that has changed his life.

At the moment, Gascoigne is playing the waiting game. He will soon be undergoing panel interviews in the following weeks by Nevada congressional representatives for a service academy nomination. Once the interviews are done, he will then be notified sometime in December if he will be going to West Point.

"I have met all the qualifications and even have a conditional letter of acceptance," Gascoigne said. "But even with the letter I still have to go through the interviews. I feel confident about the interviews."

Ask any coach about Gascoigne and they believe he can make it.

"Tommy is focused and driven," Trojans football and wrestling coach Craig Rieger said. "He worked hard and did what was necessary to be accepted by West Point. Tommy is a leader at PVHS and students look up to him."

For those that don't know Gascoigne, he has been wanting to go to the academy for some time and he has changed his life to work on that goal as soon as he entered high school. He knew from the start he had to get good grades.

"As you know, I have been wanting to go to West Point since I was eight years old," he said. "When my junior year started, it was like a whole new realm opened up for me. That's when I started the process of applying to West Point and started being an adult. I had to start thinking of my future and what I wanted to be doing in the next 5-10 years."

Over the summer of his junior year he was very busy. He attended two summer sessions for West Point (Army service academy) and Annapolis (naval academy). Both sessions gave applicants an idea of what life was like at the academy.

The summer sessions gave a lot of insight to Gascoigne on what the academy could be like and the got him excited about learning new things.

"They had a mock reception, or what the first day would be like for a new cadet."

He said he attended several workshops which gave him an idea of what the classes would be like.

"I attended a leadership and ethics workshop and I remember this lieutenant colonel was talking about how easy it was to push the button on some shaving cream and how easy it was coming out. He then pointed out how hard it would be to put the cream back into the can. He related this to life and said it may be easy to start something but remember you have to live with the consequences. You can't put the cream back in."

He also said he attended a history workshop, which allowed him to defend West Point against a mock British attack.

In addition to his travels to the academies, Gascoigne also had the honor of being selected to Boys State, which he also attended the summer of his junior year. Boys State is a high school civic leadership conference held each year in Carson City.

The summer conference addressed leadership, civic engagement, legislation, government, parliamentary procedures and elections.

"You get to participate in a mock government where you elect officials and write legislation and try to get it passed," Gascoigne said. "You amend the legislation and debate it. It taught me how hard it was to fight for something when you are the minority party. There is a lot of compromise involved."

Applying to West Point has taught Gascoigne to come out of his comfort zone. He said one experience he will never forget was the year he went out for wrestling.

"I wanted to see if I had the grit to tough it out in wrestling," he said. "It was hard. I would wrestle to 5:30 p.m. and then had to come home and do homework. I fought through it and earned a varsity letter. This taught me a lot about goal setting. You can't have the grit without setting the goals. If I didn't set goals, I wouldn't be in the position I am now. Stay with your goals and strive for physical and academic excellence and be invested in yourself, that's how you get into a service academy."

Gascoigne talked about the academics needed to get into a service academy. He didn't talk about the opportunities he didn't have being in a small community, rather he spoke about the many educational opportunities he did have available to him. Along with the honors classes that he had to take, he recommends taking AP classes (advanced placement).

"AP classes are tough but worth the effort for they add to the strength of your schedule, which is looked at by service academies," Gascoigne said.

Then there is the community service. For that, he really had to put himself out there.

Gascoigne chose to help veterans at the local VFW. He got a $2,500 grant for the post to help with their food bank.

Gascoigne said working with the community is something that all colleges look at, not just the service academies.

He said working with people on community projects has taught him about cooperation and what hard work can do to unite people and help them.

Contact sports editor Vern Hee at vhee@pvtimes.com. On Twitter: @vernheepvt.

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