The DuBois rifle program has a long-standing tradition of producing shooters who compete at the next level, and current senior Keith Fatula will be the latest to add to that legacy — all while training to serve his country.
Fatula recently received word he earned an appointment to the Coast Guard Academy, the smallest of the five U.S. service academies which is located in New London, Conn.
Admission to the Coast Guard Academy is highly competitive, with fewer than 400 appointments offered each year from a pool of more than 2,000 applicants. Cadets receive a full tuition scholarship and a monthly stipend for a 5-year service commitment to the Coast Guard upon graduation.
All graduates receive a Bachelor of Science degree and are guaranteed a position of leadership as a commissioned officer in the United States Coast Guard.
“I feel very honored to have received an appointment,” said Fatula. “It was very rewarding when I found out after about four months of work on my application. I’m very proud to represent my city and school at such a prestigious institution.
“I decided to seek an appointment this past summer. I discovered the academy when I met their coach at a rifle camp. I knew I wasn’t interested in the other service academies, but I was drawn to the Coast Guard because of their mission of safety and law enforcement.”
Unlike the other service academies, the Coast Guard is a merit based application process and does not require a congressional nomination. Fatula said he did receive assistance from counselors, teachers and coaches at DAHS.
Fatula plans to major in management at the academy but is unsure of what he wants to pursue until he has a better idea of the career opportunities he will have in that field.
He also will continue what has already been a decorated rifle career for the academy’s rifle team, which is a Division III program. However, with less than 30 schools offering rifle (23 at D-I level), the NCAA holds only a single, all-division championship for the sport.
“I am looking forward to continuing my shooting career,” said Fatula. “Since I started shooting in middle school, it has always been my goal to continue on to a collegiate team. I am excited to have the chance to travel and compete against some of the best college rifle teams in the country.
“One of my favorite things about rifle is the opportunities it gave me to travel across the country for competitions, including shooting at the Olympic Training Center. Being on a college rifle team will allow me to continue traveling while also doing what I love.”
Fatula’s shooting resume is an impressive one. He was a four-year lettermen at DuBois and voted the team’s MVP each of his final two seasons. At last year’s high school state championship match, he was the state champion in the standing position and the bronze medalist in air rifle.
He is a four-time PA State Junior Olympic qualifier for the Junior Olympics in Colorado Springs, Colo., and was the 2019-2020 PA State JORC Mens Individual Air Rifle Champion.
Fatula also was a NRA 4P Jr. Sectional silver medalist and member of the NRA Jr. Sectional Gold medal team. The Beaver was a member of several NRA Jr. Sectional Team winning squads over the last years.
Fatula’s high school coach, Joanne Pentz, had nothing but praise for her former shooter.
“Keith has worked hard to attain all (his) awards,” said Pentz. “He has the determination, discipline, work ethic and commitment that it takes to become the exceptional shooter that he has become. Keith has been a leader on our team. He was a captain this year and was always willing to help the underclassman. He takes initiative and is very respectful to his coaches, teammates and opposing teams.
“He has a calm demeanor and was always responsive to any of my coaching ideas. He maintains his composure and consistently works through his shot routine and always gives one hundred percent during practices and at matches.
“Keith has committed his free time to practicing, including attending rifle camps and competitions to become the top shooter on the DAHS rifle team. In addition to his commitment to rifle shooting, Keith is outstanding in the classroom. His GPA ranks him within the top five of his class.
“He challenges himself with difficult academic classes, including AP classes and is dual enrolled at Penn State University. His work ethic in the classroom and in the range is exceptional.
“It has been a pleasure and honor to be able to coach him during his time on the DuBois Area High School rifle team. I am proud to be a part of his high school experience and I wish him all the best as moves into the next chapter of his life. I know he will make his parents, all his coaches and his community proud.”
DuBois’ last rifle team member to go to shoot at the collegiate level was Rachael Sprague in 2018. She is finishing up her sophomore year at the University of Tennessee at Martin, a D-I program.
Fatula is just second DuBois rifle grad to move on to shoot at a service academy, joining Alan Solida who received an appointment to West Point in 2013.
“I feel very proud to continue DuBois’ legacy,” said Fatula. “I think that it speaks a lot about the coaching that our team is fortunate to have, as they play a huge role in the success of shooters both past and present.
“DuBois is well known in the rifle community, so I am thankful to continue their tradition of successful shooters.”
Fatula also was offered a roster spot at Morehead State, a D-I school in Kentucky.
“My recruiting process was very different, as I was choosing between two very different lifestyles, more than choosing which team to be a part of,” said the Beaver. “I would like to thank my parents (George and Amy), and my sister, Laura.
“I would also like to thank my coaches Joanne Pentz and Mike Sprague, along with everyone else who helped me achieve my goal of receiving an appointment.”