I was solicited by both Annapolis and West Point when in high school, after I attended American Legion Boy's State at SUNY Morrisville and had also garnered awards from the Elks, DAR, and a couple other big groups for being a youth leader in school and in my community. All the academies had cadet representatives at the campus when we were there and they were looking for candidates. Unfortunately my eye sight wasn't good enough to pass the physical standards at the time. They assured us getting an appointment 'would not be a problem'. I also wonder 'what if'? If only there had been laser eye surgery back then.
One of the perks of being on a carrier is being able to go up to an observation catwalk on the island and watch flight ops. Night Ops was the best, especially with the afterburner cat launches.