Anthony Rodriguez: Kicking off a new future with the Air Force


Michelle Lin

Senior Anthony Rodriguez watched from the sidelines as his team dominated Woodstock, 35-21. Rodriguez trained extremely hard for the position as a kicker on NC’s varsity football team. As a result, the Air Force Academy offered Rodriguez a spot on their team and a full scholarship for his dedication.

Michelle Lin, Photographer

Not often do people understand what it takes to wipe the floor with their rivals and conquer the field. With all the pressure of keeping NC’s reputation up to par, the athletes work through blood, sweat, and tears to train for their upcoming games. Senior Anthony Rodriguez, one of NC’s star football players, knows exactly what hard work looks like and what it takes for all his efforts to pay off.

At an early age, Rodriguez felt a passion for soccer, and he pushed himself to become the best soccer player he could. However, never did he imagine one day he would play for NC’s varsity football team and later on for the Air Force Academy on a full scholarship.

Because of his love and history with soccer, Rodriguez did not start playing football until eighth-grade year when his best friend, senior Luis Garcia-Cano, convinced him to try out for the kicking position. Spending time on the field made Rodriguez realize he wanted to continue playing in high school, so he signed up for the freshman football team.

“Second semester of my freshman year, that’s when I did weight training and actually started working out and getting stronger,” Rodriguez said.

During the summer before junior year, Rodriguez worked extremely hard in becoming the athlete of his dreams. On the first day back of his junior year season, Rodriguez kicked a 60-yard field goal that went viral on social media. It was not until USA Today wrote an article on the 16-year-old athlete that Rodriguez found his passion for football and decided he needed to take it more seriously.

Even when Rodriguez did not perform as well as he wanted on the field, instead of giving up, he learned to accept his mistakes and improve on the next game.

Michelle Lin
Despite a foot injury, Rodriguez did not refrain from eagerly supporting and cheering on his team. He stands with his teammates on the sidelines as they watch the players closely during the last few minutes of the game.

“There were times when I wasn’t doing my best in the games and I would just be really upset because of how bad I did, but everyone has bad days and off-games and you just have to use this to tell yourself what you need to improve on. My parents are also super supportive, and they just help me through it,” Rodriguez said.

To make football his number one priority, Rodriguez quit soccer and gave his full attention to improving as a player. Rodriguez not only put more effort into his training but since he knew colleges would also look at his academic record, he made sure to excel in all his classes as well.

“You have to make sure you’re motivated to do what you want to do. It’s all about putting in the time and work for it, both as an athlete and also as a student. If you’re not putting any work in the classroom, no colleges would want you because first, it’s about the grades, then it’s about being an athlete,” Rodriguez said.

Senior year became an outstanding year for Rodriguez where all his hard work finally paid off. With his athletic abilities and amazing grades, the Air Force Academy reached out and offered him and full-ride scholarship and the position as a kicker on their football team.

“Coach Lynch is really good at recruiting our players. We had the Air Force come in and they saw my film and they saw that I was ranked high for both of those top two kicking camps of the nation so they direct messaged me on Twitter and said that they’re considering offering me something really soon. Two days after, I got a call from the special teams coordinator,” Rodriguez said.

Along with Rodriguez’s extremely proud parents, his 16-year-old sister, NC junior Janett Rodriguez, remains one of his most loyal supporters. Janett views her older brother as a role model and wants to exhibit the same amount of effort into reaching her own goals.

“My brother is definitely my biggest role model. He’s motivated me to set high goals for myself and work hard to accomplish them. I couldn’t be any prouder of him. I have seen him grow into a mature, young man that I’m so proud to call my brother,” Janett Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez looks forward to the new experiences the Air Force Academy will offer him and all the benefits that come with it. With all the strict rules the academy forces on their students, Rodriguez recognizes the intimidation but he also knows that it will only help him become a better man in the future.