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Rockford lacrosse standout begins Air Force Academy this summer

Ian Rodriguez has his eye on the sky for his future career

Rockford graduate Ian Rodriguez begins his journey at the Air Force Academy this summer in Colorado to not only continue his talents on the lacrosse field, but also follow in his uncle’s footsteps.

At Rockford’s graduation, from left, Christy Rodriguez (mom), Ian Rodriguez, Katie Rodriguez (sister) and Steve Rodriguez (dad) (courtesy photo by Miles Postema)

Recruited by the academy as a sophomore, Ian had 48 goals and 18 assists as a senior and ended up with a 4.1 GPA. Four other colleges made offers — University of Detroit Mercy, UMass, Boston University and Bryant University– but his heart belongs with the Air Force.

“I think the Academy is a great choice because I want to be a pilot afterwards and there is no better place than the Air Force Academy,” Ian said.

Ian’s uncle, Matt Watson, also went to the academy and flew refueling tankers in the Air Force after graduating. He now flies as a captain with American Airlines.

“It kind of runs in the family,” Ian said.

At the academy, he will have a rigorous schedule, with academics, sports and military training from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Ian Rodriguez in action for the Rams (courtesy photo by Miles Postema)

Strength and Dedication

Considering his intensity on the field, he’s ready for that challenge.

“He has an energy about him and has fun with the game,” said Rockford lacrosse coach Mike DeWitt  of his four-year starter and midfielder. “He is respectful, takes his academics seriously, and gets along with everybody.”

In practice, he keeps things light, but on the field he is ruthless.

“If you’re trying to guard him, he’s not afraid to take you to the cage and score.”

DeWitt said Ian was the team catalyst all season long.

“When Ian is playing, and playing well, the team feels like they could beat anybody,” DeWitt said. “Whenever we were down, Ian would bury a goal or two and immediately start a run to get us back into the game.”

During the past three years, the Rams reached the Division 1 state semifinals, state quarterfinals and regional semifinals once each.

Ian Rodriguez gets lifted after scoring a touchdown against Saline as a junior at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor (courtesy photo by Miles Postema)

As a linebacker on the gridiron, he led the team in tackles with 114, and helped Rockford with a Division 1 state-quarterfinal run his senior year.

After making his mark in two sports, what’s his favorite? “Well, it depends on the season,” said Ian, who earned four varsity letters for lacrosse and three for football. “In the fall it’s football and in the spring it’s lacrosse.”

Ian comes from an athletic family. Parents Steve and Christy Rodriguez both played multiple sports between high school and college and his sister Katie plays lacrosse as well.

“So, me playing would be inevitable,” Ian said.

In the classroom, Ian enjoyed physiology and science class, making the Honor Roll throughout high school. He has not chosen a major yet, but is interested in aviation. “The courses at Rockford have prepared me for the rigorous academics at the academy,” he said,

Ian is also involved with his church and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. “I love to hike and go camping as well as playing extracurricular basketball and working on cars,” he said. “I also enjoy hanging out with my cat.”

Now looking back, he shared highlights of being on the field. “My favorite lacrosse memory was playing in a close game with Brother Rice my sophomore year in the state semifinals,” Ian said. “My favorite football memory is beating Grandville three years in a row.”

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Cris Greer
Cris Greer
For more than three decades, Cris Greer has been a wordsmith, working in the fields of journalism, advertising and marketing. Much of the past decade, he helped grow the MLive Statewide High School Sports desk as a supervisor, editor and reporter, which included eight newspapers in Michigan and mlive.com. Cris also was a freelancer for The Grand Rapids Press, The Advance and On the Town magazine for many years. A good portion of his early career was spent building and managing the copywriting team in the advertising department at Meijer, Inc., where he oversaw copywriting for print ads, mailers, brochures, signage, several dozen in-house magazines per year and much more.

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