Schottland heads to West Point

SPARTA. High school senior hopes to play on the tennis team at the U.S. Military Academy.

Sparta /
| 28 May 2023 | 08:38

Thomas Schottland, a senior at Sparta High School, will be reporting to West Point this summer, just four days after he graduates high school.

“Well truly, it’s a dream for me to serve my country,” he said. “It’s a great segue into my goals. I’ve always wanted to serve this country and I’m just so excited to be able to go to West Point.”

When Thomas was 11 years old, he became interested in military history and great historical battles as a hobby. From there, he learned about West Point and thought that it would be a great place for him to continue his education and be able to serve his country.

The road to being accepted there was not easy; there are many things that students must do to even qualify for the application process, which involves academics, physical abilities and health.

After West Point determines whether a student could be a good fit, he or she must be nominated by a member of Congress or U.S. senator.

Thomas wrote more than 20 essays and was given the opportunity to work in Rep. Mikie Sherrill’s office last November and December.

He said he was very grateful to receive a nomination from Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J.

Throughout his application process, he connected with former West Point teacher, Col. Edwin Simpson. He met Simpson through one of his tennis coaches, and Simpson helped mentor him through the process.

Thomas received a great deal of support from his parents, Phil and Eve Schottland, as well.

“We are very excited and very honored. It’s new to us because it’s our first child going to West Point,” Phil Schottland said. “We’re very proud of him.”

He emphasized how challenging the application process was, adding that he is very happy that his son was given the chance to attend West Point.

It’s a plus that the campus is less than two hours from their house so they will be able to visit him there.

The Schottlands are in the West Point Parents Organization, which allows them to visit this summer during March Back, when the cadets graduate from basic training.

Thomas also talked about the importance of being close to home.

West Point admits students from throughout the country, and some cadets cannot afford to fly home during the holidays. Thomas said he is happy and grateful to be able to offer his hospitality to those cadets.

He will be leaving for basic training June 26 and looks forward to studying electrical engineering for the next four years. After that. he will serve in the Army for a minimum of five years.

He plans to stay in the Army past that time, he said.

Thomas has played tennis for most of his life and has been a big contributor to the Sparta High School team.

He hopes to continue his athletic career at West Point.