Wing Man: Senior Abe Murphy aims for Air Force Academy appointment


Ben Lack, Sports Editor

Soccer state championship Most Valuable Player. Valedictorian candidate. Accomplished video producer. For senior Abram Murphy, these accomplishments just scratch the surface of his extensive resume, one he hopes will soon catalyze his admission to the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado.

“An advantage I have is that I’m being recruited by their soccer team,” Murphy said. “I went on an official visit there to meet with the coaches. They told me that if I get accepted, I will have the chance to fight for a spot on the team.”

Entering a military academy is a process unlike applying to most any other college. In addition to displaying academic and extracurricular excellence, applicants also must demonstrate physical competence, including  completing 75 pushups in under two minutes. Murphy finished the feat in 60 seconds. Other obstacles include a vision test, a mile run, and earning a congressional nomination.

“Getting accepted into a service academy is a huge deal,” said Dr. Spero Tshontikidis, Murphy’s guidance counselor. “It’s extraordinarily selective. Not that any other college is not selective, but there’s a whole other aspect to this in that they’re looking for leaders. They’re looking for a holistic Renaissance man with people skills, good teamwork, a good work ethic, who’s in good shape and fits the role that a military leader should be. The process takes a lot of discipline and tenacity to get through. I remember with Abe, we started it all last year.”

Receiving a congressional or vice presidential nomination is akin to earning a scholarship. Candidates must submit a record of their academic achievements, write essays, and complete an interview, all while competing against other students for a limited number of spots.

“I got my nomination from Bill Posey, our local Congressman,” Murphy said. “When I went in there, I was interviewed by a board of Air Force Academy alumni. You compete against other students to get one of a U.S. Senator’s 10 or a U.S. Representative’s five nominations. I felt confident I got the nomination because they were very formal with me. They were more personable than Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson. [Posey] knew all about West Shore and what we represent.”

Murphy, one of seven children, says he aims to be the second member of his family to enter the Air Force.

“My older sister Bridgette is deployed in Germany right now,” he said. “Growing up with a sister in the Air Force has shown me what that lifestyle is like, and it fostered an early passion in me to go to the academy. I’ve always been inspired by the NASA program. I fell in love with the concept of the Air Force before I even knew it existed. When [Bridgette] went there, I was able to see that the United States Air Force Adademy is a great place to help me achieve anything. My long-term goal is to become an astronaut and going there could help springboard that.”

In one of his essays, Murphy demonstrated that his desire to serve his country transcends soccer and a free education.

“As a kid, I visited USAFA when my sister got accepted,” he said. “The students there told me you have to be committed or you’ll hate it. One of my sister’s commanders said to her ‘iron sharpens iron’ and that has stayed with me. She told me that I have to surround myself with the best people to magnify my strengths and improve on my weaknesses. Going to West Shore, I’ve always been around the smartest kids. This has made me want to use my gifts to serve the best interests of the nation. Living in a big family has shown me that I have to put the common goal ahead of myself.”

In the meantime, Murphy says he is focused on getting the 7-2-2 soccer team to a second consecutive state championship.