Senior Spotlight: Morley Stanwood’s McLaughlin Embarks for Air Force Academy
MISportsNow is putting the spotlight on northern Michigan high school senior student-athletes who had their seasons cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Morley Stanwood senior Aiden McLaughlin earned all-state honors in three sports throughout his high school career and set a goal of competing at the collegiate level.
McLaughlin has not only achieved his goal of running cross country and track at an NCAA Division I institution, he’ll receive an excellent education and prepare to serve his country as he attends the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.
“Military academies were the route I wanted to go,” McLaughlin said. “I really liked the Air Force branch.”
An all-state and all-conference selection in cross country, basketball and track, McLaughlin owns three school track and field records at Morley Stanwood and captured the 2019 MHSAA Division 3 Lower Peninsula 800 meters state title.
It was after the conclusion of McLaughlin’s junior track and field season that he first grabbed the attention of the Air Force Academy and its track and field and cross country coaching staff.
“I won the state championship and over that summer, I started getting in contact with him (Air Force Academy coach) more,” McLaughlin said. “He liked me as an athlete a lot. He saw some Instagram posts of me dunking and me playing basketball and my athleticism. He reached out and said, ‘Hey, I really want to make this work and get you on the team.’”
The process of applying to a U.S. service academy is a lengthy one and requires receiving a nomination from a member of the U.S. House of Representatives who represents your congressional district, a U.S. Senator representing your state or the Vice President.
“You have to go through lots of interviews. I had to get an appointment with Congressman John Moolenaar. That was an interview, and I had to get an interview with a captain or commander in the Air Force, and stuff like that. But about 100,000 people start the application and about 10,000 complete it, and then out of that 10,000 about 1,000 to 2,000 get accepted in.”
McLaughlin was on the basketball team bus en route to a district semifinal game in mid-March when he received a call from Moolenaar. The representative of Michigan’s 4th Congressional District was calling to inform and congratulate McLaughlin on his offer of appointment to the Air Force Academy.
“I got a phone call from where it says Washington, D.C. I didn’t answer it because I was on the bus,” McLaughlin said. “I’m, like, that was super loud, so I’m like, “All right, well, I think I know what this is, but I’m going to wait and call him back after the game.’ But it ended up being Congressman John Moolenaar.”
Outside of his athletic endeavors, McLaughlin has kept himself busy as a member of the school’s FIRST robotics team, the National Honors Society, the Mecosta County Youth Advisory Committee and the English Language Arts team. He’s also attended the Michigan Boys State program and received a citizenship award from the Daughters of the American Revolution.
McLaughlin will enter the Air Force Academy in June and plans to pursue either aerospace engineering or astronomical engineering, with dreams of becoming a pilot.
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