MERIDIAN — Connor Odneal didn't set out with a plan to follow his dad's career path, but the Mountain View High senior found his way there anyway.
Odneal received his appointment to the Air Force Academy in mid-March and officially accepted April 13 after another visit to the Colorado Springs, Colo., campus. He begins basic training at the end of June.
Odneal's father, Ryan, graduated from Air Force in 1989 and flew an A-10 Warthog for 24 years, including three years as an A-10 squadron commander at Gowen Field in Boise. He is retiring May 1.
"Obviously I was introduced to the Air Force by my dad, but the decision really was mine. My parents supported me whether I chose Air Force or not," Odneal said. "As much as I knew it would make him proud to go there, I didn't want to base my future off of his career. I am independent of them, but it does add to it.
"Obviously it gives me a sense of pride to be carrying on a family legacy there."
Mountain View (12-8, 11-5) is tied for third in the 5A Southern Idaho Conference standings with two games remaining in the regular season. The 6-foot, 185-pound Odneal is the Mavericks' starting shortstop and bats second. He is hitting .385 and is a two-time first-team selection in the 5A SIC.
"I've been in education for about 15 years and I've filled out paperwork for different kids for different academies, and he's the first student of mine that I've ever had accepted, so that's pretty cool," Mountain View coach Matt Rasmussen said.
"It is quite the accomplishment. It tells you how well-rounded of a person he really is. He's a very hard worker, very determined, just a great kid. He's very family-oriented, a great teammate and an awesome kid to be around for the last four years. He's one of those kids you hate to see him go, but you're excited about where he's going."
The Air Force has a unique enrollment process, which requires applicants to secure a congressional nomination, pass a military physical and receive an appointment from the academy. Odneal began the process last summer, he said.
Odneal said his eyesight will keep from being medically cleared to fly in the Air Force, like his father, but he is more interested in the academy for its academics.
"I feel like you leave there just a better person in general," Odneal said.
Rachel Roberts: 377-6422, Twitter: @IDS_VarsityX