Ryan Palecek has opted not to return to college and continue his football career at Kansas Wesleyan University.
The former Central Valley High School multi-sport athlete enlisted in the U.S. Navy in April.
“I’ve always wanted to join the military,” said Palecek, who flew from Sacramento to Illinois Monday morning for basic training. “I have family in the Navy. I heard about the benefits you get after. I feel this is the best opportunity to better my future.”
“He’ll fit right in,” said Derrick Goblirsch, Palecek’s baseball coach and defensive coordinator in football at Central Valley. “He’s a hard worker. He’s used to being on a team. He’s played sports his whole life.”
Palecek will complete boot camp at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center, near Chicago.
“I’m looking forward to it. I’ll get to challenge myself, mentally and physically. I’ll build a better work ethic for the future as well.”Ryan Palecek
“I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “I’ll get to challenge myself, mentally and physically. I’ll build a better work ethic for the future as well.”
Palecek signed a four-year contract with the Navy.
He will pursue a Damage controlman role.
Palecek’s responsibilities may include: firefighting, emergency equipment repair, onboard damage control, fire suppression equipment inspections and maintenance, and ongoing safety and damage control training to crewmembers.
“I’m anxious more than anything else,” he said. “I just want to do well. I want to make my family proud. After the military, I plan to become a firefighter. I’ll have more job experience. I’ll have more choices to where I could go.”
Palecek was awarded a partial scholarship to Wesleyan University.
“My teammates and coaches were awesome,” he said.
Recruited to play linebacker, Palecek contributed on special teams as a true freshman.
He was slowed by a right knee injury.
“After dealing with that and the recovery period, I felt like it was time to do something else now,” said Palecek, who played football for 15 years. “I didn’t want to keep injuring my body if it’s not going to better my future. The odds of getting to the NFL are small.”
Palecek enjoyed being a student-athlete in the Midwest.
The business management major posted a grade-point average of 3.5 during his lone year at Wesleyan University.
“It was different being in Kansas,” he said. “People there are very friendly. Everybody says hi to you wherever you go. The weather is crazy. The first six weeks I was there, it was above 100 degrees every single day with humidity above 90. There were thunder and lightning storms. There were tornado warnings. It went from being super hot to very cold in a week. The highest it ever got in September was 10 degrees. It was snowing every day.”
Palecek earned seven varsity letters at Central Valley, including three in wrestling, two in football and two in baseball.
He was named the high school’s Golden Hawk Male Athlete of the Year in 2019.
Palecek earned honorable-mention Central California Conference recognition during his final season of football.
He had 61 tackles, two pass deflections, one sack, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery at linebacker.
Palecek totaled 106 tackles, two sacks, two fumble recoveries, one forced fumble, one interception and four pass deflections in 20 career games.
Palecek experienced his best season to date in wrestling senior year.
He posted a 31-13 overall record.
He placed first in the 182-pound weight class at the CCC Championships.
He took second at the Division-III tournament.
He won two of four matches at Masters.
Palecek batted .261 from the plate with five doubles, 18 RBIs and 22 runs in 45 career baseball games with the Hawks. He logged playing time in the outfield on defense.