Military News

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Face of Defense: Lieutenant Pursues Dream of Playing in NFL

By Air Force Senior Airman Vernon L. Fowler Jr.
6th Air Mobility Wing

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla., May 28, 2015 – Achieving excellence is a core value for all airmen.

Air Force 1st Lt. Connor Dietz applies his quest for excellence not only to his duties as 6th Logistics Readiness Squadron material management flight commander here, but also to continuing to work hard and push toward his dream of competing in the National Football League.

Dietz laughed as he recalled that the word "ball" was his first word as a child in Columbus, Ohio. Football has been an important part of his life since third grade, he said, and he credited his father and brother, who both played, for teaching him the game.

In high school, Dietz lettered in football three times, establishing himself as one of the top players in his district and helping his team to win the 2006 Ohio Division 1 state championship. His quest for excellence didn't end there, however. He also served as a captain on his football and basketball teams, was selected to all-star games in football and lacrosse, and was a member of the National Honor Society.

"I'm a very competitive person," he said. "God has blessed me with a lot, and I try to do my best with what he's given me."

Air Force Academy

In 2008, Dietz signed a national letter of intent to play for the U.S. Air Force Academy Falcons football team. He would compete as a Division 1 college athlete against some of the top programs in the country while attending one of the nation's most prestigious institutions.

During his four years at the academy, he would have to balance a demanding academic curriculum, cadet life and staying in top condition for football, he said, and his fellow cadets helped him succeed.

Dietz played in meaningful games for the Falcons, including the Armed Forces Bowl in his senior season and the annual rivalry games against the other service academies. Along the way, he said, he gained valuable experience that prepared him to lead in the operational Air Force, to have a potential football career, and ultimately for life after the academy.

"I not only learned how to lead others, but also myself," he said. "The support from all the guys in the locker room, coaches, faculty, staff and just everything around there made it an unbelievable experience."

Overwhelming Support

Following graduation and his commissioning as a second lieutenant, Dietz was assigned here in March 2013. As he has continued pursuit of his dream to play in the NFL, he said, he has received support from all over the installation as well as from his family and friends.

"The support I have received here has been overwhelming," Dietz said. "I wouldn't be able to pursue my dream without it."

Dietz has two trainers -- one for diet conditioning and the other for football -- with whom he trains five or six days each week. Despite his dedication and rigorous training, however, he doesn't allow football to interfere with his duties at work and to his country.

"I work normal hours, and then after it's straight to football," he said. "I always try and not let football interfere with my duty, because that comes first."

Dietz has participated in a pro day for various NFL scouts and also has worked out with a few teams. His goal, he said, is to get into training camp with a team and eventually make it onto a roster. "I'm just trying to do my best, make it into the league, and be the best I can be," he said.

At the end of the day, Dietz said, his faith is strong and the love for football is in his blood.

"When you're out there on the field, there's no other feeling like it in the world," he said. “It just feels right. … I feel at home."

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