KALISPELL — This time of year Montana seniors declare where they will play football for the next four years.
But for Glacier High Schools's Jake Rendina, it wasn't just about the next four years but setting him up for the rest of his life. Rendina announced his commitment to play for the United States Military Academy (Army) on Nov. 29.
"I realized how academically it's top tier, collegiately it's top tier, football-wise and then career-wise it is top tier. So mash it together and you have an amazing thing you have going for you and that is why I think I made my decision," Rendina said.
Being top tier in anything he does, is what Rendina lives for. He was Glacier's star running back during his high school career, collecting 3,754 rushing yards and 62 touchdowns throughout his high school career.
“I would say it has taken a lot of hard work in the weight room, the classroom, being a leader on and off the field to get this opportunity to go to West Point,” said Rendina.
Not only has he juggled the demands of being a student-athlete in football but he also competed and excelled nationally in weightlifting, so Rendina learned discipline at a young age. The same discipline he will now need to excel on and off the field at Army.
"Genetically, I think it's just kind of ingrained in me and, I wanted to go places in life. I wanted to play Division I college football and I knew what it would take," said Rendina.
Rendina's eagerness to always be better is what Glacier head coach Grady Bennett admired most, saying Jake's athleticism was just a bonus.
"Jake was always bigger and stronger than most kids and obviously very gifted, but he's worked his tail off again evidenced by what he's accomplished in the weight room and then on the football field," said Bennett. "He has worked so hard to be great. And again, to push himself and accomplish what he has accomplished. It just makes us all very proud."
While high school football players are getting ready to wear a new logo for Jake it goes much deeper because along with his school’s logo he will wear the flag.
“I stand for the Pledge of Allegiance very proud, my whole family does. This is Montana. I'm extremely proud to wear those stripes and I will forever be proud to wear those stripes,” Rendina said.
“To watch him grow as a leader and then to think he's going to take that to the military and be a leader of our country. Again, just so proud of him as a football player, but more so as a young man and any young man that wants to take a stand for our country and do what's right and represent the stars and stripes,” Bennett said.