Rancho Santa Fe native Ali Polidori to enter Class of 2026 Plebe Summer at U.S. Naval Academy

Ali Polidori
Ali Polidori

RSF resident Ali Polidori, a senior at Torrey Pines High School, will be inducted into the Naval Academy Class of 2026 on Thursday, June 30, and will begin six challenging weeks of basic midshipman training as part of Plebe Summer.

Approximately 1,200 candidates are selected each year for the Academy’s “plebe” or freshman class, and each student is required to participate in Plebe Summer. Last year, the Naval Academy received over 16,000 applications for the Class of 2026.

During this time, plebes have no access to television, movies, the internet, and music, and also have restricted access to cell phones. They are only permitted to make three calls during the six weeks of Plebe Summer.

The pressure and rigor of Plebe Summer is carefully designed to help plebes prepare for their first academic year at the Naval Academy and the four years of challenges that awaits them.

As the summer progresses, plebes rapidly assimilate basic skills in seamanship, navigation, damage control, sailing, and handling yard patrol craft. They also learn infantry drill and how to shoot 9mm pistols and M-16 rifles.

Other daily training sessions involve moral, mental, physical, and professional development and team-building skills. Activities include swimming, martial arts, basic rock climbing, and obstacle, endurance, and confidence courses designed to develop physical, mental, and team-building skills. Forty hours are devoted to the instruction of infantry drill and five formal parades.

Founded in 1845, the U.S. Naval Academy today is a prestigious four-year service academy that prepares midshipmen morally, mentally, and physically to be professional officers in the naval service, according to a news release.

Below are Ali’s answers via email to four questions asked by this newspaper:

1) Why do you want to attend the Naval Academy and how did you feel when you learned you had been accepted?

Ali: The military passion for me started from being drawn to war stories into the library, or war movies on TV for the history, and selfless dedication to our country. And after finding out about the Naval Academy specifically, I fell in love with the high standard students held themselves to, the unmatched comradery, structure and disciplined lifestyles, the vast history all around campus, opportunity to dive Division 1, and a guaranteed job serving my country once I graduate. USNA was such a “long-shot” goal for me for around 2 years that even my close family was extremely supportive, but realistically, not that hopeful that I would ever get accepted.

However, I saw this vision for myself and I did everything in my power to make my dream come true, no matter who didn’t believe in me. Overall, the challenge is really what drew me to the Naval Academy. In sport and out, I’m always trying to find ways to push my limits, to see how far I can go and to be better than who I was the day before. So for me I really saw the academy as being a huge challenge in every part of my life which I knew could develop me into the best officer, athlete, and person I could ever imagine along with making the most quality connections with my classmates who go through it all with me.

Once I was finally accepted, although I had been dreaming about it for a long time, it felt quite surreal. It was this huge relief but also a reassurance that all of the time, effort, phone calls, workouts, and early mornings that I invested into the process paid off. It also gave me even more motivation to train and stay on top of school because I knew I had plebe summer to prepare for!

2) What did you have to do to qualify for an appointment to the Naval Academy?

Ali: No one action can quantify what it takes to receive an appointment to any academy. Instead, they want well-rounded candidates who are substantial in academics, physical strength, moral character, and show the potential to lead people successfully. I think the main attribute pushing my application was being recruited to dive on the varsity swim and dive team at Navy because when you are wanted for a sport, it won’t ever guarantee an appointment, but it definitely helps the process. Additionally, I lead a club called Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), am a captain of the varsity swim and dive team, am on Mock Trial, Yearbook, I tutor elementary school students, I’m a California State Parks Ocean Lifeguard, and have taken many AP courses. A common theme in many appointees resumes are leadership positions and good services towards their communities. Therefore, showing my passion through sports and lifeguarding were huge assets for me as a way to show them my dedication, fitness, and service to my community.

3.) What did you have to do to receive a congressional nomination from Mike Levin?

Ali: To receive a nomination, much like an appointment, has no one pin-pointed task to achieve. To start, I applied to his office with the required package of a transcript, resume, personal statement and a few other items. They got back to me with the opportunity to be interviewed and from there, was a lot of speaking and thinking on your toes for interview preparation. I practiced everyday to answer questions like “what is leadership to you and a challenging time you had to display it,” “when is a time you failed and what have you taken from this experience,” to “how do you feel about killing someone,” etc. But more than anything, I think what helped me to get the nomination was having genuine passion for pursuing this path and the personal stories I told to support my answers to the questions. As well as being confident in myself, my passions and my credibility, and maturely speaking to the office about it. It’s important to understand that service academies don’t want robots — they want real humans who make some mistakes, learn from them, and are willing to get up and try again.

4.) What is your professional career goal?

Ali: As of now, I’m interested in the possibility of pursuing being a pilot (hopefully helicopters), Naval Flight Officer, Navy Nurse or going into Special Operations. All midshipmen (students at USNA) have the ability to learn and experience the different commissioning positions throughout their 4 years at the academy, so initial interests are expected to shift around! Overall, I want to be in a career where I can be challenged, have positive influences on the people I’m leading and our country, travel, and just be happy.