Naval Academy for Oak Lawn Teen
June 22, 2011
By Bob Rakow
Collin Demski recalls seeing the movie “Tears of the Sun” and deciding he wanted to pursue a career in the military.
The movie depicts a U.S. Navy SEAL team rescue mission during a civil war in Nigeria.
“It really set the mood for me,” said Demski, who is a recent Oak Lawn High School graduate. “I’ve always been interested in doing this. I’ve dreamt about doing this since the seventh grade.”
Demski’s hard work and dedication paid off when he received an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy.
“I’m starting plebe summer June 30 at 7:30 in the morning,” Demski said.
The six-week required training program begins with induction day.
“They shave my head,” said Demski, who is one of some 1,200 members of the academy’s Class of 2015.
Also on induction day, Demski will take the Naval Academy oath of office, receive his uniforms and learn which platoon and company he will be in.
Demski is not unfamiliar with military life.
His brother, Cameron, is a member of the Corps of Cadets at Norwich University in Northfield, Vt. A close friend, Josh Rivera, a Marist graduate, attends the Naval Academy.
Demski knew he faced long odds when he applied for admission to the academy.
He received the required congressional nomination from U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski and was qualified by the Department of Defense medical review board.
But he was well aware the academy received more than 17,000 applications for admission. “All of my friends and family were very sure of me. I’ve had tremendous support from my coaches, family and friends,” Demski said.
He said participation on the high school track and cross country teams have prepared him for the rigors of life at the academy.
“It’s very draining mentally and physically,” Demski said of cross country training runs.
Chris Repa, Demski’s track and cross country coach, said the program is designed to prepare students for life after high school.
“You want to prepare the young boys to be men,” Repa said. “We do a lot of leadership and community team building.”
“We kind of worked with him (Demski) to make sure he had every opportunity at Oak Lawn,” Repa said. “We had time to position him properly.”
Repa said Demski was not the fastest runner on the cross country team, but his leadership skills were impeccable and he always strived to improve his skills.
“He’s a model student-athlete,” Repa said. “He will be very successful at the academy.”
Repa also lauded Demski for his selflessness.
“He has a very, very pure moral compass,” Repa said. “He definitely reflects on what’s best for the team.”
“Collin has been a determined young man since he started kindergarten,” Demski’s mother, Maritza, said. She said she’s preparing for the day when her son leaves for the academy.
“I’m trying to keep myself in check,” she said. “It’s a tug on my heart.”
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