Caulkins’ offers words of advice to student-athletes

Student-athletes have their work cut out for them.

Not only is it up at 6 a.m. for school daily, wrapping up that last-second homework assignment or squeezing in that last chapter of required reading along the way, but then it’s often not home until long after 6 p.m., when practice finally ends, and the aforementioned homework begins.

While most all student-athletes work their hardest to keep on top of sports and academics, there are a few who go above and beyond, maintaining a high level of scholarship and athleticism.

Jace Caulkins is one of those few.

Caulkins, last year’s Central Kitsap Reporter Male Student-Athlete of the Year, finished school and hit the road, landing near Colorado Springs, Colo., at the United States Air Force Academy. Caulkins, captain of the Olympic Trojans boys tennis and swim teams for both his junior and senior years, graduated from Oly with a 4.0 grade point average.

Now a year into the academy, Caulkins reflected on some of the life lessons he gained as a student-athlete that have benefitted him in his early life outside Olympic High School’s walls.

What do you remember most about your high school sports experience now that you’ve been out for a year?

I remember my teammates and coaches the most. You develop close bonds with fellow athletes and I miss that. I was able to check in with them over Thanksgiving break during the boys swim season.

Doing a sport like swimming, with a heavy focus on endurance, did any of your sports experiences help prepare you for boot camp?

This is a tough question because I am not sure what it would have been like if I hadn’t done swimming. If I had to guess I would say yes. The altitude affected everyone differently the first few weeks at the Academy and I think my experience with endurance sports may have lent me helping hand when it came to running and prolonged activity.

What’s been the most challenging aspect of joining Air Force so far?

There are moments — very few — when you question yourself and your decision. You wonder what it’s going to be like being deployed after you graduate and how it will affect your family. I would say that is by far the most difficult aspect; the idea that after your sophomore year you are committing yourself to serve in whatever war we may be fighting after you graduate.

What are you enjoying most about the Air Force so far?

The people are amazing. I have the most amazing lifelong friends. We have shared experiences that no one will understand (through basic training) and we have lifelong friendships.

How are you enjoying life away from Silverdale?

Colorado Springs is a great little town. It is pretty much a Silverdale on steroids. And if you are lucky enough to borrow someone’s car you can have a pretty good time in town.

What are you doing to stay active?

I played rugby in the fall and team handball in the spring for intramurals. Team handball is huge in Europe.

Academically, with a year under your belt now, do you feel you were prepared for college?

Yes, the academics at the academy are pretty tough mainly because of time management issues as freshmen. With knowledge tests, training, minutes and higher room standards, you must be on you’re ‘A’ game to avoid punishment. The structure of the freshmen year forces you to manage your time efficiently.

What do you think being a student-athlete taught you?

Being a student-athlete taught me the importance of staying physically active. Keeping your body in good shape allows you to tackle the academic arena more effectively.

How have you applied that lesson to life after high school?

I brought that concept with me to the academy and ensure that I don’t miss a workout. Working out also creates an environment where you have to work efficiently because you have quite a bit less time to accomplish the mountain of work assigned each day.

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