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Timber!  That’s the sound of the quarterback hitting the ground when defensive end Thomas Bolke gets to him.  It’s also the sound of Bolke’s future.

Bolke is a senior football player at Hot Springs High School and he loves the game of football.

“I like the family aspect of it,” said the left tackle/defensive end.  “I look to my left and look to my right and I know those guys have my back.  I like knowing my coach is going to be there for me and I’m going to be there for him. I like the leadership aspect of it. I love the game.”

In the spring, Bolke hits the track.  What events does he compete in?  “Whatever coach needs.”  He mainly runs sprints (100m, 200m, 400m), but he has also competed in pole vault, long jump and triple jump.  When he’s not on the football field or running laps on the track, Bolke is getting straight A’s, even competing in the Science Olympiad.  Along with athletics and academics, Thomas is passionate about another project.  It’s not every day you see a high school student-athlete also moonlight with the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service.  He says his biology teacher encouraged him.

“Me and some football buddies applied for this job over the summer and basically it was an introduction into the forest service and recreation, conservation and things like that.”

The job entails cleaning up campsites, restrooms, emptying fire rings and even pouring concrete. Bolke can’t get enough of it. He’s been doing it for the past two summers.

“I really like it.  A goal right now is to work this next summer on the fire crew after I graduate.  Then hopefully pay for college like that.”

His number one college choice is Colorado University in Boulder.  He’s also considering Northern Arizona University, Montana State and other forestry schools.  “I like working hard, breaking a sweat. It’s good, honest work.”

Before he wanted to work in the forestry service, Thomas wanted to be a physical trainer.  “I interned with the physical therapist here in town.  To go along with that I do some different classes and started studying anatomy and physiology and found out I can compete in that.  Me and my fullback, Gerson Montoya, we did that together and got a better idea of what our bodies need to do, not only to perform but to perform as athletes and things of that nature.”

Bolke has been playing football since the seventh grade in the El Paso, Texas.  He transferred to Hot Springs High School before his freshman year.  Thomas and Gerson have been friends ever since Bolke arrived at school in Truth or Consequences.  “We have the same goals.  Work hard, be good leaders on the field and off the field in the classroom.  We’re always pushing each other.”

From football to the forest, Bolke is active and passionate.

“Everyone on this team is an active member in the community, whether that’s working or volunteering. It’s something our coaches work with, that you can have a summer job and you can still come back and work hard here for the team.”

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