The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

March 15, 2013

McAuley's Mitch Wear meets goal of West Point appointment, college football

By Ryan Atkinson
Globe Sports Writer

— Third grade was a key time for Mitch Wear.

It was when he started playing football and when he set a monumental goal for his future — getting appointed to a United States service academy.

On Thursday, in the library of McAuley Catholic High School, it all came together.

Wear was appointed to the United States Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., and, as an added bonus, will play sprint football for the Black Knights.

“This is just a very exciting and rewarding day,” said Wear, a three-year starter at quarterback for the McAuley Warriors.

To start, sprint football is, simply, football for guys who are not mountainous.

Same rules, same game, but all players must weigh less than 172 pounds. It was formerly called lightweight football and its notable players include Donald Rumsfeld, Jimmy Carter and Robert Craft.

It’s a quick game that emphasizes speed and agility, perfect for a quarterback who spent his career in McAuley’s spread offense.

“Obviously the D-I program is famous for running the flex-bone, and that’s not the type of quarterback I am,” Wear said. “But the sprint program runs the spread, which is what we run at McAuley.”

Wear said he filled out a form for interested athletes and submitted game film. He heard back from Army’s offensive coordinator within a week.

He’ll play for the Black Knights in the eight-team Collegiate Sprint Football League, which includes Ivy League schools Cornell, Princeton and Penn as well as the Naval Academy.

“It’s extremely exciting. I love playing football and I’m glad I get to continue that,” he said. “Plus it’s going to be an opportunity to kind of get around and see the region up there. It will be a huge opportunity for travel and I’m extremely happy I can continue throwing the football around.”

While football will be a big part of Wear’s experience at West Point, it’s not the goal he set as a young kid.

After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Wear said he knew he wanted to serve his country in some way. His dad, Mark Wear, an Army veteran who served in Korea, guided him down a path that would make him a competitive candidate for an appointment to a service academy.

“They have check lists for young people to follow,” Mark Wear said. “You need to be a captain of a sport. You need to be a varsity lettermen. All kinds of things. We just check-listed it from the time he was 9 years old on.”

Despite the low appointment rates for prospective cadets, Wear and his parents never doubted his chances.

“He was born kind of an old man and always had his head on straight,” Mitch’s mother, Susan, said. “We felt right from the start that it was something he could do. We knew he could reach this goal. We never though it was unreachable.”

Wear also received a nomination for the Air Force Academy before being appointed to West Point. He said his future plans, including whether or not he wants to build his entire career with the military, will depend on future situations, but he said he feels confident he can handle whatever the Academy throws at him.

And a lot of that confidence, he said, can be attributed to his time at McAuley.

“You see in every room of the school, there’s something on the wall about how we’re guided by the values of honesty and integrity,” he said. “That’s been a huge emphasis here. I think people who graduate from McAuley are really well-rounded and ready to be out on their own, more so than other high schools. McAuley, in reference to leadership experience, has been a huge, huge influence in my life.”