Kyle Haak does seemingly nothing halfway.
“I like doing good things well. Things that have purpose,” the Air Force alternate captain said.
Even though he couldn’t envision himself in the military even a few months before committing to the Falcons, Haak has milked every last drop out of his nearly four years at the academy.
The two-time academic All-American is ranked second out of the class of 2019, which includes academics, athletics and military performance.
On the road, while teammates rest or goof around, he can be found in a quiet corner with his trusty noise-cancelling headphones, studying or working.
One secret — “crazy” as it might sound — is getting homework done on Friday night, then using Saturday and Sunday to unwind. His brother Jamieson, who is finishing up medical school, was the inspiration there.
He also saw upperclassmen, such as last year’s captain Dylan Abood, working hard and succeeding on and off the ice while Haak was “doubting whether it was possible.”
“It really helps to have that community of guys that care about school and working hard,” he said.
Haak, a physics major with a nuclear weapons and strategy minor, was selected as the Cadet of the Year for 2018, the most outstanding cadet among all commissioning resources in the Air Force over the academic year. He’s completed too many internships and projects to list.
It’s taken him out of the country and away from the Falcons, but never created a distraction, coach Frank Serratore said.
“He’s got a little extra than your ordinary, mere mortal,” the coach added. “It’s just great to see someone who utilizes that and maximizes their potential.”
That translates to the rink, where Haak has 86 points in 139 career games so far, and conference and NCAA regional all-tournament honors. This season, the Okemos, Mich., native leads the team in goal-scoring (12) and short-handed goals (2) and is tied for first in power-play goals (6) second in points (22). He has the highest faceoff percentage on the team (.582) among those who regularly take them.
He’s one of 10 national finalists for the Senior CLASS Award, and the 11th Falcon nominated in 13 years. He could be the second to win it.
“If he doesn’t get it, I’d sure like to meet the young man that does,” Serratore said. “He gets it done in every facet of his life. Pretty extraordinary young man.”
For all he’s brought to the team, it’s given so much back.
Haak was always a doubles player — no interest in singles. He took a break from lacrosse when he didn’t have a family member to play with. That support is crucial.
“I couldn’t have made it through the academy, let alone succeeded, without the team,” Haak said. “From a social aspect, to mental health, to getting down here and working out, having a purpose – it’s been incredible.”
It’s not over, as Air Force opens the postseason with a best-of-three home series against Niagara on Friday.
While many of Air Force’s seniors have found out where they’re headed next — “Matt Koch was accepted to MIT, and the poor guy’s lost in Kyle Haak’s shadow,” Serratore joked — Haak is waiting to see what happens with graduate school. His focus continues to be on some of the biggest problems facing humanity: Fresh water and green energy.
A few more Haak tips for cadets, and others: Peppermint helps you focus. He drinks mint tea before games, a habit acquired in juniors, and will eat a wrapped peppermint before a big test.
High grades and superstitions aren’t mutually exclusive — his rinkside pregame selfies date back to his first game as a Falcon, an overtime win over Denver.
And focus on “the day-to-day process.”
“It’s easy to burn out and pull all-nighters, but if you can find a routine that works for you and is effective, that’s the biggest key,” he said.
“And surround yourself with a good community as well.”