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Bigger Than Football: Local star athlete breaks family tradition, chooses patriotic path

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- A local high school athlete is pursuing a greater calling tonight.

The Homestead High School senior will join the Air Force next year. The military wasn't always in the cards.

Homestead Senior Jake Raddatz has always imagined himself as a Wisconsin Badger.

"I'd say Madison was always my first school, even from growing up I just always planned on going to Madison," Jake Raddatz said.

His dad played for Wisconsin in the 80's and was drafted by the Bengals.

"Football's been just a huge part of my life, kind of growing up around it, having my dad play in college, it's always been a goal of mine to play in college also. And so going through the youth program since 5th grade and pursuing it in high school also," said Jake Raddatz. 

His entire family are Badger alums.

"Mary and I both and then Claire, jake's older sister, Kyle's there now, and Jake's not going to be there," said Craig Raddatz.

Jake had his sights on Division 1 football, hoping to get a scholarship from Wisconsin. He was offered a preferred walk on spot but three-full rides came in the mail -- Army, Navy, and Air Force. It wasn't exactly what the 17-year-old from Mequon had in mind.

"The military has always been, I've always thought about it as an option, but never seriously. So the more I learned about it, the more interested I became in serving our country and it's something I realized I wanted to do," said Jake Raddatz.

"When Jake first got a mailing from the Air Force about 8-9 months ago, he actually said to me dad you know I'd be interested in this," said Craig Raddatz.

So he visited the Academy over the summer, said yes to the Falcons, and will join the Air Force in the fall to serve and to play.

"We're excited. This is the first member of our football program to go to the military academy," said Homestead High School Coach David Keel.

His head coach at Homestead says the commitment even before his senior season speaks volumes about his commitment to the game and to his country.

"It's a huge decision. Even before his senior year, it truly unfolded to make that commitment. It's special," said Coach Keel.

"Probably one of the reasons he's picking Air Force is because he loves the comradery of the gys, comradery of the mission just puts in the hard work and enjoys it at the end of the day," said Craig Raddatz. 


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