Former Air Force basketball player Jacob Burtschi said he will be released from the remainder of his active-duty service committment in the summer and will begin pursuing a professional basketball career.
Burtschi is taking advantage of the force management program, which aims to reduce the number of airmen in the Air Force by approximately 3,700 (for budgetary reasons).
A 2007 graduate, Burtschi was an assistant coach at the academy prep school for a year after graduation and since then has served at Schriever Air Force Base as the Bravo Crew Commander for the 11th Space Warning Squadron. Burtschi met criteria for the force management program and will be eligible for release on June 1, when he will have served three years.
“The paperwork’s in final coordination, and everything looks good,” Burtschi said.
“It’s kind of bittersweet. The Air Force has been great to me. It’s been my life for the last seven years. It’s hard to say goodbye, but I was able to serve my country and now I can chase my ultimate dream, which is playing professional basketball.”
Burtschi, a 6-foot-6 forward, was one of the key members of the Class of 2007 that was the common thread in the Falcons’ brief run of success from 2003-2007. He became a fan favorite because of his gritty, hard-nosed and emotional style of play and is considered one of the top players in the program’s history. Burtschi ranks 10th all-time at the academy in scoring (1,205 points) and is the academy’s career leader in games played (125) and steals (196). Last season, when The Gazette unveiled its All-Time Air Force Basketball Team, Burtschi was on the starting five.
Burtschi currently works four days, then has four days off. On his off days he plans to work out in the area or at the University of Denver. Once he is released, he said he plans to move to Denver and work out with players at the University of Colorado, which is coached by Jeff Bzdelik, Burtschi’s coach his last two seasons at the academy. Burtschi said he’d do that for about six weeks, then move home to Oklahoma. He’ll try to play in some tournaments, then move overseas. His agent already is working to find a team for him.
Down the road, Burtschi hopes to play in the NBA.
“That’s the ultimate goal – to come back and make an NBA team,” he said. “But you have to start somewhere, and overseas is where I’ll have to start for a couple years.”