NEW ALBANY —
Ricke said he is ready for the challenge.
“I have played sports all my life. I’m not worried about the physical aspect,” he said.
After four years, Ricke and the rest of the plebes will leave with a top-notch education and be commissioned as officers in the Navy, where they will have to fulfill a five-year commitment.
His father, Mike Ricke, said last October his son said he was going into the Navy — either after graduating from South Carolina or by attending the Naval Academy.
“He was set on a Naval career,” Ricke’s father said. “It was never about the [credit] hours. This was what he wanted to do. Both of his grandfathers were World War II veterans.
“I couldn’t be more proud of him. He has put in all the time and effort. No one can do this for you.”
Ricke should be entering his second year at Annapolis. But after suffering a shoulder injury while playing football at New Albany High School his senior year that required surgery, he was unable to complete the fitness test. When he was healthy enough to finish the exam, enrollment was already complete for the 2012 freshman class.
But he didn’t give up on his dream. He enrolled into the University of South Carolina’s rigorous engineering program and went through the Naval Academy process all over again. This time, there were no injuries or roadblocks stopping him.
He was sponsored by both Sen. Dan Coats and Rep. Todd Young, and his local adviser is retired Navy Capt. Tim Naville, a New Albany attorney who is a grad of the academy.
While none of his credits transferred, Ricke said the academic experience at South Carolina prepared him for what he will face in the engineering program at the academy. He also said he got to enjoy a normal freshman year of college, unlike most midshipmen who come right out of high school.