From Cedar Hill To Colorado Springs
CEDAR HILL, TX– When Matthew Aribisala enrolls at the United States Air Force Academy this summer, he and his fellow cadets will discuss the places where their journey started.
Aribisala could take the easy route and say ‘Dallas’ to a group of cadets who may not be familiar with the intricacies of the Metroplex.
Instead, he will proudly say ‘Cedar Hill, Texas’, giving credit to the community where he grew up, 727.3 miles southeast of USAFA’s Colorado Springs campus.
“Cedar Hill is a great city and a great community with great schools,” Aribisala said. “The community is amazing, and we support each other so well. We have a lot of smart scholars and a lot of amazing athletes.”
Aribisala fits into both of those categories. He chose USAFA for its academics and will also play football for the Falcons, who are Division I members of the Mountain West Conference (MWC).
Choosing The Right Fit
“Air Force was the best fit for me,” Aribisala said. “It feels like a family. The environment is great, the views are great and the education is amazing.”
Aribisala plans to study Physical Therapy and upon graduation, he will achieve the US Air Force rank of O-1, which is equivalent to a Second Lieutenant. He will serve in the USAF for at least five years.
“I’ve always liked the medical field,” Aribisala said. “As an athlete, we have to take great care of our bodies. When I am studying Physical Therapy and playing the sport, I am learning about something that helps me take care of my body.”
Aribisala takes great pride in knowing that he will be the first member of his family to serve in the United States Military.
“I’m very proud to serve my country,” Aribisala said. “Serving is another way I can help people.”
Aribisala is one of two current CHHS seniors who will attend a service academy. Fellow senior Jackson Hickman will attend the United States Military Academy Preparatory School at West Point, with plans of attending West Point as a sophomore.
Aribisala, a 6-foot-3, 240-pound defensive end, is one of three Longhorn Football seniors who will play for a Football Bowl Series (FBS) university, joining offensive lineman Courtland Ford (University of Southern California) and wide receiver Quin Bright (University of Hawaii).
Since Hawaii is a member of the MWC, there’s a good chance that Aribisala and Bright will face one another on the gridiron.
When opponents visit Falcon Field, there’s a sign that reads “Warning: Elevation: 6,621 Feet Above Sea Level.”
The Air Force Football Team is accustomed to it, but visitors from places, such as Pittsburgh or San Jose will not be.
The Falcons had an outstanding season last year, finishing 11-2 with a 31-21 victory over Washington State in the Cheez-It Bowl in Phoenix.
They’re scheduled to open the 2020 season on Sept. 5 vs. Duquesne University.
Whether the season starts on schedule – or takes place at all – is anyone’s guess due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Aribisala, however, is preparing himself as if the season opener is just around the corner.
“I’ve been disciplining myself, making sure I am staying in shape and everything else,” said Aribisala, who has been doing a series of exercises and cardio in his neighborhood. “When it comes to football, nobody can stop me from sacking the quarterback.”
Academically, Aribisala said he was able to “adapt to the online courses” at CHHS. He is looking forward to resuming regular classes in college. But he will be prepared, regardless of whether it’s traditional or online classes. He took Advanced Placement courses in English and Calculus at CHHS.
“The extra work that I will need to accomplish at USAFA will help me a lot in life,” Aribisala said.
Quarantine Life For Matthew Aribisala
During the quarantine, Aribisala has mentored his younger brother, Martin (who will be a freshman at CHHS in 2020-2021), both academically and athletically.
Aribisala started Pre-K at Plummer Elementary School in the summer of 2006. Followed by Waterford Oaks Elementary, Joe Wilson Intermediate, Permenter Middle School and the Ninth Grade Center before matriculating to CHHS.
Aribisala competed in Powerlifting and Track & Field at CHHS, and even played in the band during his freshman year at the Ninth Grade Center.
“I was a pretty good trumpet player,” he said.
Aribisala said he was originally more interested in basketball, but quickly gravitated to football during intermediate school.
Solid Athletic & Academic Foundation
He played two years of varsity football, culminating with a District 6A-7 Championship last fall.
“Defeating archrival DeSoto, 28-27, last fall was special,” Aribisala said.
Even at 6,000+ plus feet, Aribisala will also remember his academic and athletic foundation in Cedar Hill.
As a defensive end, he has great admiration for All-Pro outside linebacker Von Miller. Broncos Miller graduated from the school on the other side of the “Battle of Belt Line.”
This fall, Aribisala and the Denver Broncos star will be separated by just 65 miles of Interstate 25.
“He’s one of my favorite players, and I’ll make an exception that he is a DeSoto Eagle,” Aribisala said. “If we ever meet though, I’m still going to talk about Cedar Hill.”