Juan Diego Catholic High School senior receives appointment to U.S. Naval Academy

Friday, May. 17, 2024
Juan Diego Catholic High School senior receives appointment to U.S. Naval Academy + Enlarge
Zachary Meehan, a member of the Juan Diego Catholic High School Class of 2024, will head off to the United States Naval Academy in June to begin his plebe summer.
By Laura Vallejo
Intermountain Catholic

DRAPER — For every 100 applicants to the United States Naval Academy, only 11 are admitted. This year one of those selected is Zachary Meehan, a member of the Juan Diego Catholic School Class of 2024.

“We are so excited for him and the opportunities he will have at the Naval Academy,” said Nickol Meehan, Zachary’s mother. “Many of our family members have served in the military, so it is a tradition that we are proud of Zachary for choosing to fulfill.”

The appointment was a huge accomplishment, she said, because “it is hard to get and there are outstanding candidates from all over the U.S. that go there.”

Attending Juan Diego helped Zachary obtain this appointment, she added.

“He was able to take challenging classes like AP Capstone, and had amazing teachers and coaches that helped him succeed. ... It was a lot of hard work, but it paid off,” she said.

In addition, at JDCHS Zachary  learned to manage his time well, “doing multiple sports and taking very hard classes at the same time. I think he also learned service to his school through being a student ambassador and a peer minister.”

At the school, Zachary also was captain of the swim team and a member of the hockey team. In addition, he was an Eagle Scout with Troop 1966.

The thought of becoming a naval aviator has been on Zachary’s mind “because ever since I saw Top Gun I thought it would be cool,” he said.

“I actually applied to all of the academies because I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to get into any of them, and I really had my mind set to go to a military academy. But the Naval Academy was always my first choice.”

Last summer he attended a seminar that helped him decide to apply there, he said.

“Summer seminar is like a week-long experience where you get to live on campus and see what the midshipmen do. They have such a close-knit community and camaraderie that really impressed me and was something I wanted to be a part of,” he said

Now that his dreams have come true, he is excited for the challenge of attending a military academy.

“I know it will be hard, and I have been mentally and physically preparing for plebe summer already by running and working out. I think I will grow as a person by attending the Naval Academy because it is not like a typical college, but it is experiences that will shape me into who I want to be.”

Like his mother, he thinks that Juan Diego helped him to be prepared for Annapolis.

“I think you have to be able to be really well-rounded in many ways: academically, physically and mentally. I think Juan Diego is a great school and it helps you balance these different parts into a whole person. I also had great teachers, role models and friends that helped me.”

In particular, coach John Moran was important “in helping me achieve success in swimming and giving me a mindset to work hard,” he said.

Moran returned the compliment, saying, “Zach Meehan is an example of the never give up and never quit attitude that the Naval Academy looks for in their applicants.”

Zachary also was presented with the Tim Hixson Memorial Scholarship Award for the 2023-2024 high school hockey season, which is given to one defenseman and one goaltender/forward selected as the most well-rounded UHSH participants.

Zachary “is the epitome of perseverance and change,” said Maurice Van der Sluys, JDCHS’ hockey head coach, adding that “his reserved persona isn’t one of shyness, it is how Zach learns from each situation, his teammates, and the coaching staff. He is a player who really internalized each action and how he can improve to better, not only himself, but those around him.”

“When you set your mind to do something you can achieve great things,” Zachary said. “In hockey, my coach Moe Van der Sluys was helpful in developing a winning attitude and to never give up. I am really thankful to all the people who have helped me on this journey. I do not think I could have done it alone.”

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