One cadet's connection to the World Series

Nathan Schierholtz, left, poses for a photo with his brother, Cadet 1st Class Vai Schierholtz, Oct. 28, 2010. Nathan Schierholtz is a rightfielder for the 2010 World Series champion San Francisco Giants. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Nathan Schierholtz, left, poses for a photo with his brother, Cadet 1st Class Vai Schierholtz, Oct. 28, 2010. Nathan Schierholtz is a rightfielder for the 2010 World Series champion San Francisco Giants. (U.S. Air Force photo)

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- A cadet sits in the Air Force Academy Library. He is leader among his peers, commander of his Cadet Squadron. He faces the terrazzo where classmates and friends pass by under the cold Colorado sunshine. The amount of time until his graduation can be counted in months now, not years.

At the same time, a young man rides along a parade route in the northern California sunshine celebrating with his teammates. Orange and white confetti rains down and the streets of San Francisco are filled with fans and friends all there to celebrate the San Francisco Giants' first World Series victory in 56 years.

The oldest of four, San Francisco Giants outfielder Nathan "Nate" Schierholtz always set a good example for his younger siblings, an example that continues to be a model of success for his younger brother, Cadet 1st Class Vai Schierholtz.

"He was a 4.0 student, he never went out or anything in high school," explained Cadet Schierholtz. "He was just totally focused on baseball and that helped me stay focused too.

"His work ethic definitely rubbed off on me. I've always been a perfectionist and I feel like this is an attribute that Nate possesses as well. We are both very hard on ourselves, and look to perform well in everything we do."

That commitment to excellence and perfection helped Nate Schierholtz go from captain and all-star of the San Ramon Valley High School baseball team to a professional baseball player and now a World Series champion.

That same kind of commitment took Vai Schierholtz from high school star athlete, class president, captain of two sports, and overall good student to the Air Force Academy where he leads Cadet Squadron 03 and is the program manager of FalconLaunch 9.

In addition, he played two years on the Air Force Academy baseball team and now is on the women's basketball scout team, which prepares the team for games by running their opponent's plays against them.

Before he ever thought about being a cadet, Vai Schierholtz wanted to play college sports and maybe become a professional, following in his brother's footsteps. By his junior year, he realized that professional and college sports would not be a reality for him.

"I was 5'7" and 140 pounds," Cadet Schierholtz said with a laugh. "Playing professionally wasn't going to happen."

He started his college search and found the Air Force Academy with the guidance of his step-father, Air Force Academy class of '94 graduate Christopher Womick, a C-5 Galaxy pilot in the reserves who flies full time for FedEx.

"I always wanted to do something different when I was in high school," Cadet Schierholtz said. "I've always liked the military and what it represents, and I figured that the academy would be a great avenue."

In spite of the different directions their lives have gone in, the Schierholtz boys remain close.

"We talk every day," Cadet Schierholtz said. "He's always been very supportive, asking me how things are going here."

And the support goes both ways.

"I was a Colorado Rockies fan," explained Cadet Schierholtz. "Once he got close to making it to the big leagues, I had to switch it up. I'll always support whatever team he plays for."

Even on the night of the Giants' World Series victory, Nate Schierholtz found the time to talk to his younger brother.

"He was just getting on the plane," explained Cadet Schierholtz. "He was excited and said his eyes were still stinging from the champagne."

Cadet Schierholtz got the opportunity to share in some of his brother's playoff glory. He attended game one of the National League Championship Series in Philadelphia at Citizens Bank Park and games one and two of the World Series in San Francisco at AT&T Park. He had to watch the Giants and his brother clinch the series from home.

"It's hard to explain. I'm still shocked, I don't know if its hit me yet," Cadet Schierholtz said, speaking of his brother's victory.

At the end of the day, it does not matter that one is a professional baseball player, now a world champion, and the other is a cadet close to becoming an officer in the U.S. Air Force. Each needed the same commitment to excellence, respect for hard work, and personal determination to achieve in their respective professions.

However, to Nate and Vai, regardless of their personal and professional successes, are still just brothers.