Ayres to go ‘big air’

Middleburg football, wrestling standout hopes for pilot slot after finishing U.S. Naval Academy

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MIDDLEBURG - Former Middleburg High football and wrestling athlete David Ayres, now about to graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy, will be training for a possible pilot spot with the U.S. Marine Corps. Ayres survived a year of Naval Academy rugby before an injury sidelined him.

“When you enter the Academy, you have to select a varsity sport, a club sport or an intramural sport,” said Ayres, 22. “They have a nationally ranked rugby team and it was a little football, a little wrestling. I tore my ACL in my freshman year and that ended that. Rugby guys are great people. I played tighthead prop, No. 3 player, similar to an offensive lineman in football.”

Note: Tighthead prop, in rugby, is to the right of the hooker with his head positioned between the opposition hooker and the opposition loosehead prop. A tighthead prop is one of the three players at the front of the scrum. They stand on the right-hand side of the hooker. As they take most of the impact in the scrum, a prop should have plenty of strength in their upper body. This is the area of the body where all the power is created for the big push.

Ayres, back in Middleburg due to the Coronavirus, has been working out to better his weight and strength, plus taking online courses to complete his final year.

“On my Reveal Day which is where your next assignment will be, I was chosen to go to Marine Corps Aviation,” said Ayres, who will finish at the Academy with a Bachelor of Science in Science and History. “I go to Quantico after graduation for training, then Pensacola for flight school.”

Ayres had two aircraft in mind for his flying; the F-35 fighter jet or a KC-130 cargo plane.

“The Marine Corps pilot platforms are awesome,” said Ayres. “I would be happy with either choice.”

Ayres, who left Middleburg High as his 2016 Class Valedictorian and entered the U.S. Naval Academy, has been online since the Virus outbreak.

“The Naval Academy has a great program online,” said Ayres. “I do a 5 a.m. walk, school and another workout.”

Ayres compared being home with dad and mom; Jon and Aurora, as less intense, by far.

“Actually, not nearly as intense as being on the Yard,” said Ayres. “My parents were on me like a whole bunch when in high school, but they are a little looser now.”

Ayres noted that the Naval Academy has been a great decision for post high school and has taken him worldwide to places like Germany, Hawaii, Haiti and California.

“I studied abroad in Germany in Hamburg with classes in history and cultural studies,” said Ayres. “The pilot decision was a pretty recent decision as my first thought was to be a Marine Corps ground officer; infantry or artillery elements. Aviation is the other aspect and their job is to support the ground troops. I made the decision to go aviation in January; very, very late.”

One of Ayres fondest memories was the traditional Herndon Monument Climb at Annapolis where first-year Plebes must build a human pyramid to scale a 21 foot monument covered with 50 pounds of vegetable shortening and replace a “Dixie cup” hat at the top with a Upperclassman’s hat. When the hat’s are replaced, the freshmen are no longer called plebes, but “fourth class midshipmen.” The Herndon is named after Commander William Lewis Herndon (1813-1857) who possessed the qualities of discipline, teamwork and courage. In command of the SS Central America and home-bound with gold-seekers from California, the ship encountered a three-day hurricane off the coast of North Carolina. Herndon went down with his ship after a gallant effort to save it, its sailors and passengers. A monument was erected on the Yard in his honor shortly after his death.

“It’s a rite of passage and I was at the base of the Herndon for about two hours as guys climbed over me to try and build the pyramid,” said Ayres. “It’s a great team unity finish of the first year. It’s tough though.”

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