Northeast Times

All the Wright stuff

Former Wash­ing­ton base­ball star is bound for the Hill School with hopes of ul­ti­mately end­ing up at West Point.  

  • He’s on the hill: Jake Wright in action on the mound for George Washington. He’ll play baseball for the Hill School in the spring. TIMES FILE PHOTO

  • In addition to his baseball skills, Wright also was a late bloomer on the Washington football field, serving as a reliable punter/kicker for head coach Ron Cohen. TIMES FILE PHOTO

  • Wright, a baseball star at Washington, hopes to see continued success on the diamond at the Hill School. He hopes to ultimately wind up at West Point in the fall of 2014. PHOTO COURTESY OF JAKE WRIGHT

For most high school stu­dents, the pro­spect of wear­ing a uni­form to classes all day is akin to run­ning in­to both Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees in the same night­mare. 

Jake Wright is not most high school stu­dents. 

Any­body who’s ever watched him crush a base­ball or nail a long field goal with his boom­ing leg can at­test to that. And tak­ing a fur­ther glimpse in­to Wright’s hope­ful fu­ture, it be­comes more and more un­der­stand­able why he not only doesn’t mind the pro­spect of wear­ing a uni­form to school, but ac­tu­ally en­cour­ages it.

“When every­one is fol­low­ing the same dress code, I think brings every­one closer to­geth­er,” Wright said by phone dur­ing a Sunday morn­ing chat. “It sort of shifts you in­to a harder-work­ing man­ner. When you put on a uni­form, there aren’t as many prob­lems. Nobody can get made fun of for what they are wear­ing, be­cause every­one wears the same thing. When you all put on the same uni­form, that provides a sense of unity.”

In the in­terest of con­text, Wright is by no means a dress code en­for­cer or au­thor­it­ari­an. After spend­ing the last four years at George Wash­ing­ton High School as a star base­ball play­er — and later, a standout foot­ball kick­er — he had the com­fort of wear­ing whatever he wanted every day he went to school.

Now, hav­ing gradu­ated from Wash­ing­ton earli­er this sum­mer, Wright is ready to trade his T-shirt, jeans and sneak­ers for a blazer, slacks, dress shoes and a tie in hopes that it leads to him wear­ing an even more pres­ti­gi­ous uni­form in the fall of 2014.

In­stead of fin­ish­ing high school and mov­ing on to a four-year col­lege, as the ma­jor­ity of stu­dents tend to do, Wright op­ted to spend the next year of his life at The Hill School, an elite post­gradu­ate, pre­par­at­ory/board­ing school for boys and girls, loc­ated in Pott­stown, roughly 35 miles north­w­est of Phil­adelphia. 

It is Wright’s hope that after a year at Hill, his ap­plic­a­tion to the United States Mil­it­ary Academy, per­haps more com­monly known as West Point, will be ac­cep­ted. The son of an Army vet­er­an, Wright’s path to­ward be­com­ing a mil­it­ary of­ficer began to de­vel­op back in Janu­ary. 

“Be­cause of my dad, I was al­ways kind of in­ter­ested in it, but it wasn’t un­til Janu­ary that I really star­ted to ser­i­ously think about it,” said Wright, the third of four broth­ers in his fam­ily. “He en­lis­ted in the Army, and he al­ways told me that if I was go­ing to fol­low suit, I should try to be­come an of­ficer in­stead of just en­list­ing. It star­ted out as a dream of mine, a dream that’s now be­come a goal.”

Wright settled on Hill for his year of post­gradu­ate stud­ies after check­ing out sim­il­ar in­sti­tu­tions like the Lawrenceville School and Val­ley Forge Mil­it­ary Academy. One thing that helped Hill win out was the fact that the school offered Wright an op­por­tun­ity to con­tin­ue play­ing foot­ball and base­ball. Everything about the cam­pus, he said, felt like home.

“It’s been around since the 1850s, so it’s a little older, which gives it that more goth­ic, Ivy League feel, which is sim­il­ar to West Point,” he said. “The fa­cil­it­ies are amaz­ing, and both the base­ball and foot­ball coaches seemed like really nice people.

“It also of­fers me a chal­lenge, aca­dem­ic­ally. I can take classes like cal­cu­lus and phys­ics, which I didn’t at Wash­ing­ton. This es­sen­tially serves as my seni­or year of high school all over again. It’s a tre­mend­ous op­por­tun­ity for me.”

Wright also plans to ap­ply to the oth­er ser­vice academies (Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard) as well as to four-year in­sti­tu­tions like Geor­getown and Yale, but his hope is that all roads lead to West Point. He has already taken a West Point fit­ness can­did­ate as­sess­ment, though he hopes to take it again, as well as re-tak­ing the SAT and tak­ing the ACT for the first time in the in­terest of giv­ing him­self plenty of op­tions. 

The ex­tremely se­lect­ive ad­mis­sions pro­cess also in­cludes a form­al ap­plic­a­tion to the academy, as well as a nom­in­a­tion from a United States rep­res­ent­at­ive or sen­at­or. Ad­di­tion­ally, there are es­says to be writ­ten, let­ters of re­com­mend­a­tion to ob­tain and a form­al in­ter­view to go on. It is one of the hard­est schools in the coun­try to get in­to, as West Point ac­cepts roughly 12 per­cent to 13 per­cent of total ap­plic­ants. Des­pite that, Wright be­lieves he has what it takes.

“Over the last year or two, I’ve be­come much more pat­ri­ot­ic,” he said. “I’ve al­ways thought this coun­try has giv­en me so much, and be­cause of that, it is my duty to serve.”

West Point man­dates its ca­dets to study at the academy for four years, and then the school has a re­quired five-year mil­it­ary ser­vice policy upon gradu­ation. If he gets in, Wright is still un­sure of his ca­reer path, though he said he has in­terest in re­main­ing in the mil­it­ary as an of­ficer, or per­haps get­ting in­to polit­ics or join­ing a gov­ern­ment agency such as the FBI or De­part­ment of De­fense.

Most of the big de­cisions are still to come, as West Point’s ad­mis­sions pro­cess for the next year be­gins in Oc­to­ber and runs through Janu­ary or Feb­ru­ary. Though he has some fall­back op­tions, Wright main­tained that West Point is “the num­ber one goal, no ques­tion.”

No mat­ter where he ends up, Wright thinks his edu­ca­tion at Wash­ing­ton has more than pre­pared him for a ca­reer in polit­ics, the mil­it­ary or oth­er gov­ern­ment ser­vice. Most might shy away at the pro­spect of go­ing from enorm­ous pub­lic school to elite private school, but Wright doesn’t look at it that way. 

“Go­ing to Wash­ing­ton was an over­all char­ac­ter-build­ing ex­per­i­ence I’ll nev­er for­get,” he said. “The biggest thing I’ll re­mem­ber is be­ing around so many di­verse groups of people and learn­ing about their eth­nic back­grounds, be­liefs and philo­sophies on life. It’s changed the way I think about things. The close group of friends I have now is a very di­verse one, and I think go­ing for­ward it will help me at the Hill School, and, hope­fully, West Point.”

While many of his friends have already en­rolled at their re­spect­ive col­leges, Wright has hung back, care­fully cal­cu­lat­ing his next move, as any skilled mil­it­ary of­ficer would do. While it has been stress­ful at times, it’s doubly more ex­hil­ar­at­ing know­ing where this road may him. 

“I’m feel­ing a lot of dif­fer­ent things right now,” he ad­mit­ted. “There was a time when I asked my­self, ‘Will I wind up any­where?’ Then I zer­oed in on a goal, which re­moved a lot of that stress. I know it will be a real tough year, but the whole time I’ll be fo­cused on the main goal of do­ing whatever it takes to get to West Point.

“In a way, that sort of eases the mind­set a bit. I’ve al­ways kind of seen my­self as a lead­er, and I look for­ward to im­prov­ing my study habits and work eth­ic, as well as de­vel­op­ing lifelong friend­ships and bonds. It’s a goal I won’t ever give up on.” ••

You can reach at emorrone@bsmphilly.com.

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