Tyler Junior Faculty Soccer Seeks Coaching Help from the U.S. Marine Corps | information
The annual soccer game between Tyler Junior College and Kilgore College is historic in East Texas but has made headlines across the country over the years.
This year, the 127th meeting (Tyler leads the series, 63-61-2) will be Military Appreciation Night, when teams begin at 7 p.m. on Saturday, September 4th.
The U.S. Marine Corps drew up the TJC football team at Pat Hartley Field on Friday.
To prepare for the game, Tyler Junior College head coach Thomas Rocco has enlisted guests for Friday’s practice session: the United States Marine Corps.
Summer training for the Tyler Junior College soccer team is divided into several phases. Friday at 6:00 am was the last day for the second camp.
Instead of a light training session, the players were greeted by US marines.
Rocco contacted Marines Gunnery Sgt. Richard Eadie in Tyler, who is station commander in Tyler at the US Marines Corps Recruiting Center.
Only two of the six Marines played soccer, and the soccer players weren’t Marines. The workout served two purposes, the players participated in a workout they had never experienced before, and the Marines completed a biannual fitness requirement.
The soccer field was filled with cheering screams as the players carried each other and the Marines across the field and went through a fast-paced obstacle course that included running, weights, and push-ups.
The U.S. Marine Corps drew up the TJC football team at Pat Hartley Field on Friday. Apache linebacker Xavier Benson (runner-up, Texarkana Pleasant Grove) holds up a box during practice.
“We brainstormed months ago, trying to get creative, give these guys an experience that would be valuable now and later,” said Rocco. “The Marines have a good reputation. When we talk to young people, they talk about idolizing athletes, entertainers and rappers, but there is another ball game too – the military.”
The day was so successful, the players and the Marines will repeat it on August 6th.
After training, the players and marines shook hands and posed for photos. Both will have another photo opportunity at Military Appreciation Night – in full uniform.
“The Marines are helping us expand outreach with other branches of the military,” Rocco said. “This isn’t going to be a conference game, but it’s bigger than that, it’s a rivalry.”
Tyler Junior College Athletic Director Kevin Vest is also working on another military-themed game when TJC receives Navarro College on Sept. 11 at 7 p.m.
The U.S. Marine Corps drew up the TJC football team at Pat Hartley Field on Friday. Apache quarterback General Booty (freshman, Allen) follows a Marine during practice.
Rocco enjoyed the first meeting between the Marines and the soccer team.
“It was more than just football. The Marines had to react to leading a different group of guys than they are used to and our players had to react to someone who was different from the coach,” said Rocco. “I thought it went well, they got used to us and the way we do things … It was well received, but physically tough.”
Rocco said the team passed the combat fitness test. It wasn’t a long test and at first the players thought it would be easy.
“They said, ‘Man, this won’t be difficult, we do all kinds of things.’ Then it hit her in the mouth, “said Rocco. “A lot of the players have been gassed, I don’t think they thought it was going to be that difficult, but they had fun. They like to do physical things.”
The U.S. Marine Corps drew up the TJC football team at Pat Hartley Field on Friday. Apache tight end Rowry Bailey (Sophmore, Oak Ridge HS, Conroe) starts running during exercises.
The Marines also gave motivational speeches.
“Hopefully it’s a relationship that will last as long as we are here,” added Rocco.
For Sgt. Eadie, it’s another chance to get involved in the community. His office is in Brookside Village (near Chili’s) at 535 W SW Loop 323 in Tyler.
“I was excited. We want to intervene and get involved in the community as much as possible. Every time we are called to work with children, we take the opportunity, ”said Sgt. Eadie. “This is a semi-annual requirement for us. He wanted me to create a good workout that challenged her. This is the best we can do, it’s a short workout but it’s physically intense. Every time we come to practice it makes us smile. “
When asked if the Marines were ready to lead a soccer team, Sgt. Eadie replied, laughing and saying, “You were born ready.”
Sgt. Eadie was impressed with the linemen taking the intense maneuvering course that he said worked every muscle in the body. He also said he can’t wait to attend the Military Appreciation Night against Kilgore College, which also hosts the halftime performances between the TJC Apache Belles and Kilgore College rangerettes.
“Coach Rocco has consistently praised my boys and they are known for bringing it up when it is time to perform,” said Sgt. Eadie said. “We bring people of all shapes and sizes into the Marines, some of whom have never played a sport in their life. As long as they meet the minimum standards, we’ll work with them the rest of the way.”
The local recruiting office also has three college students.
“I have a young man who went to TJC who is in bootcamp, another UT Tyler student is on reserve, and we have a Stephen F. Austin graduate with a bachelor’s degree who is going to stop training in November” said Sgt. said Eadie. “The SFA graduate wants to become a forensic scientist. She will gain experience with the Marines and their school. You also have a thing for veterans. If you apply for a job with the government or the police force, you get points over everyone else. “
He added, “We have a lot of college students, most of them community college students, who see the benefits. A college student can pay for additional college, additional military benefits, and a great way to accelerate their career.”
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