LACEY -It's no wonder Casey Mets has always been fascinated with airplanes.
His father is a pilot and his grandfather taught at the Air Force Academy. Mets still remembers walking through the belly of a C-17 cargo plane when he was just 5 years old.
“I’ve wanted to be a pilot all my life,” Mets said.
So, it didn’t surprise his family when Mets, a third baseman and pitcher for North Thurston High School’s baseball team, applied for acceptance into the Air Force Academy. Now, he’s a step closer to realizing that lifelong dream after being accepted by the academy
“The best way to become a pilot is to go to the academy,” said Mets, who hopes to fly F-15s.
He’s taking care of business in the classroom with a 3.8 grade-point average, and has received a congressional nomination from Adam Smith. Mets, who moved into the starting spot this season, is also taking care of business on the field – he’s batting .410 and has a 1-1 record with a save.
Mets hopes to play baseball at the academy as a walk-on.
“Casey is really a hard worker,” North Thurston coach Lance Baker said. “Once he got his appointment to the academy he was excited.”
Mets is the second player from one of Baker’s teams in the past two years to get an appointment to a military academy. Baker’s son Zak, an all-state selection in baseball last year, is attending the Naval Academy.
“Just like Casey, Zak’s goal was to get into an academy,” Baker said. “It’s pretty impressive to have kids go to an academy two years in a row.”
Mets is one of three area athletes headed to a military academy in the fall for their freshmen years. Timberline’s Delas Raiford is going to the Air Force Academy and Cody Peterson of Black Hills is going to the Naval Academy, both on football scholarships.
Baker said Mets’ approach to baseball has changed this season, helping the team get off to a 5-4 start.
“He’s matured,” Baker said. “He’s not so squirrelly. He’s grown up. He’s got more confidence now.”
Mets will begin basic training June 24 in Colorado Springs, Colo., just seven days after he graduates from high school.
Mets isn’t the last North Thurston Ram wanting to go to the Air Force Academy. Sophomore Ben Reese, whose father went to West Point, has aspirations to follow Mets to the academy.
Gail Wood: 360-754-5443