DAYTON — Tongue River High School student Mason Schroder lives a day’s drive from the nearest ocean, but that won’t keep him from protecting the country’s coastline after graduation.
Schroder was recently accepted into the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut. He will attend the academy in the fall of the 2017-18 school year.
It’s one of the most selective schools in the country, with approximately 15 percent of the applicants accepted to the academy annually.
“I was pumped,” Schroder said when he heard the news of his acceptance. “It was something that I’ve been working toward for a couple of years.”
Some of his mentors, including coach and teacher Steve Hanson, served in the military, which spurred Schroder’s interest in attending the academy. Schroder chose the Coast Guard Academy to serve near water and to see new parts of the country.
“I’ve known for a long time I’ve wanted to be in the military,” Schroder said.
Getting into the Coast Guard Academy is an arduous process. Beginning his junior year, Schroder completed countless essays, answered application questions and collected letters of recommendation to be considered for acceptance.
The key, Schroder said, is to make sure no spaces on the application are left blank — and that requires more than just good grades.
While he currently holds around a 3.7 GPA (and expects straight As his last semester), the Coast Guard Academy requires its applicants to be well-rounded. Schroder not only plays football, basketball and track, but is also a member of the National Honor Society, volunteered at Camp Bethel, donated his time to work with young athletes during basketball and football camps and participated in other community outreach projects.
“You really have to start your junior year to be competitive,” Schroder said.
More than 4,000 applicants start the process to get into the academy each year, and more than 2,000 are ultimately evaluated for an appointment. Fewer than 300 are typically accepted in any given year. Once accepted, tuition, room and board are provided by the academy.
Schroder has his eyes set on continuing his athletic career at the academy. A three-sport athlete at Tongue River High School, Schroder has been contacted by several of the academy’s coaches to potentially play football, track and rugby at the school. Schroder earned All-State honors at Tongue River, led his team to two runner-up finishes as an offensive and defensive lineman in football and will represent the North team in the 2017 Shrine Bowl.
“Football is really my passion,” Schroder said. “I am definitely looking forward to continuing my career.”
The Coast Guard is one of two U.S. military academies that doesn’t require a congressional nomination, he received congressional nominations from Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyoming, for the Naval and Air Force academies, as well.
After graduation, he will spend five years in the Coast Guard serving the country. Schroder said he hopes to eventually go into law enforcement.
TRHS principal Mark Fritz said Schroder is a perfect choice for the Coast Guard Academy. He called Schroder a leader in the school and on the field, and noted that he has the perfect mentality to be successful in the military.
“He fits that profile,” Fritz said. “He’s a no-nonsense kind of kid, and he sticks up for what’s right. He’s a good leader — always doing the right thing.”
The Coast Guard is the smallest military service between the five branches with 38,000 active duty and 8,000 reserve personnel.