Chris Cassidy is a Navy SEAL and a 1988 graduate of York High School.

PORTLAND (AP) – Many children fantasize about space flight, but a former Navy SEAL from Maine who was among 11 selected for NASA’s first astronaut class in four years insists his head wasn’t in the clouds.

“I’d be lying if I said I dreamed of doing it when I was a kid,” said Chris Cassidy, 34, a 1988 graduate of York High School.

NASA’s first class in four years will begin training next month in Florida.

Cassidy was born in Salem, Mass., but his family soon moved to the Bath area when he was in fifth grade. They settled in York, where his parents still live.

In high school, Cassidy was captain and quarterback of the football team. His former coach remembers him as a natural leader.

“He certainly was one of our finest. I’d take 10 more just like him,” said Ted Welch, now the school’s athletic director.

The school’s longtime principal, Bob Stevens, echoed those recollections of Cassidy.

“He was probably showing signs as early as high school that he was cut out for grand events,” he said.

Cassidy, who graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy with a degree in mathematics and spent 11 years in the SEALs, will train as a mission specialist.

Cassidy will then join 101 astronauts now eligible to fly in space. But he doesn’t expect to be exploring the cosmos. Instead, he said he may have to wait two to seven years for his chance to blast off.

Cassidy was invited to give his former high school’s commencement address this year, but his move will prevent him from being there. His picture hangs in the school’s Military Wall of Fame.

Though joining the SEALs was a goal, Cassidy said he now wants to be the next person to walk on the moon. He just hasn’t figured out what his first words there will be, he said.

AP-ES-05-17-04 0216EDT

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