By Josh Brown
Miami Valley Today
TROY — For most, choosing which college to attend is the difficult part.
For Troy’s Ella Furlong, it was just the beginning.
“I had always wanted to go to a competitive school, and the more research I did, the service academies, specifically the Air Force Academy, were what I was after,” she said. “And during the application process, I was never without something to do.”
But all of her hard work and extra effort paid off as Furlong, a Troy High School senior, student body president and two-sport athlete, was accepted into the United State Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, to continue her academic career.
“I wanted to go to a competitive school, and with their demands for leadership and integrity, I want that challenge for the next four years,” Furlong said. “I want that opportunity to keep pushing myself. I hope to major in biology or astronautical engineering, so my passion for space and NASA (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration) is part of the motivation, too.”
And while Furlong, a varsity player for the Trojans in volleyball and softball, will not play varsity sports for the Air Force Academy, it has an athletic requirement that playing intramural or club sports will fulfill.
“They don’t have a Division I softball team, but I did consider playing for a club team,” Furlong said. “The Academy’s motto is ‘every cadet is an athlete,’ and everyone has to participate in something all four years. After basic training, I can see all of the clubs and intramural sports they offer. Personally, I want to be on the rugby team. I’ve never played rugby, but I’ve always wanted to try. I also want to be on the dance team, though, so we’ll just see what happens when I get there.”
Just getting into the Air Force Academy was competition enough thanks to its rigorous application process.
“At the end of my junior year, I started the application process,” Furlong said. “And honestly, (guidance counselor) Mr. (Aaron) Gibbons helped me a lot. I wouldn’t have known what to do if not for him. But I knew that he helped Austin Jacobs and Jared Bair get into the Air Force Academy, and he did the same for me. It’s been a long year in the application process, though, and there was always something to do.
“You have to get a nomination from your congressperson or one of your state’s senators, so I applied for one from both Senators Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown, as well as Representative Warren Davidson, which were each separate applications. I got selected to be interviewed, which meant three separate interviews — my first one, I was mortified, but by the third one I felt like I had grown a lot. It was a crazy experience.
“In late November, I found out I’d gotten the nomination from Senator Brown, and then a couple days later I found out I’d gotten one from Warren Davidson. That was awesome. It still doesn’t feel real. Then after that there was medical evaluations and fitness tests — and then the waiting to find out.”
Furlong is the daughter of Colby and Erica Furlong.
“My parents had to deal with the stress of a 17-year-old that didn’t know what she was going to do. I owe a lot to them for helping motivate me,” Furlong said.
Now Furlong waits to see if she has a senior softball season to play before leaving for college — the start of spring sports is still delayed until at least May due to the global pandemic caused by the coronavirus, COVID-19.
“It’s been strange, but I’m getting through it,” Furlong said.
Contact Josh Brown at jb[email protected], or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.
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