Marines, MEAC partner for 2014 basketball tournament
By Lance Cpl. Francisco Martinez
| 4th Marine Corps District | March 19, 2014
Norfolk, VA --
Marines partnered with the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference for the 2014 MEAC Basketball Tournament at the Scope Arena in Norfolk, Va. March 12 through March 15.
The basketball tournament is made up of 13 historically black colleges and universities with winners receiving automatic bids to post-season play in the NCAA tournament.
The Marine Corps is in its third year partnering with MEAC and the partnership provides the Marine Corps with an opportunity to celebrate the hard work, courage and commitment to excellence exhibited by its many participants.
“MEAC has been a multi-year partnership that the Marine Corps has enhanced and continued to grow in,” said Lt. Col. David Rodgers, diversity officer, Marine Corps Recruiting Command. “We have numerous HBCUs that continue to produce great students, Marine Corps leaders and great American citizens.”
The Marine Corps values this opportunity to create mutually beneficial relationships with the public and to raise awareness within the local community, key influencers, educators and highly qualified prospects that the Marine Corps is a viable career option.
“We want to let our community know, we have invested in our youth, the Marine Corps is more than just a fighting machine,” said Rodgers. “We are in the community, we help in humanitarian services and we help in our schools. America does not need a Marine Corps, it wants a Marine Corps and we aim to give America what it wants.”
During the basketball tournament, Marines also conducted a community outreach program. The program allowed Marines to mentor and interact with six groups of kids with ages ranging from 10-18.
“Mentoring the youth is extremely important because they have not had the chance to go to recruit training or officer candidate school to receive the solid foundation that Marines get to grow from,” said 2nd Lt. Jose Valle, proof source, MCRC. “Mentorship is essential to everyone; it helps develop skills and traits that are useful to anyone.”
Marines participated in the Norfolk mayoral reception, Hall of Fame brunch and the president’s breakfast. Within each event Marines engaged with key influencers and leaders within the MEAC.
“The Marine Corps has a great interest in MEAC’s future as well as in the community,” said Rodgers. “As the HBCUs continue to grow so will the Marine Corps which makes engaging with these schools not only beneficial to the Marine Corps but to the community as well.”
“It is not just the kids we care about, we want to reach everyone in the schools because they might have something to benefit from us,” said Capt. James Evensen, assistant diversity officer, MCRC, “The Marines are here to help return quality citizens to it's community. MEAC provides us access to all the different avenues of generating awareness of the Marine Corps programs.”
There are three missions that are vital to the Marine Corps success. The missions are: making Marines, winning battles and returning quality citizens. Through it's partnership with MEAC, the Marine Corps hopes to continue to accomplish its missions while building leaders with MEAC and attracting highly qualified Marine applicants.
“Marines are good at three things, that is what we are here for; we make Marines, win battles and return quality citizens,” said Evensen. “Through engaging with influencers and youth they are gaining what the Marine Corps has to offer; all the traits of leadership, honor, courage and commitment, all the things we live by.”
The Marine Corps looks to reflect the nation that it serves by bringing a diversity of language, cultural expertise, unique skill sets and a variety of philosophies to its ranks.
“For us to remain relevant in society and its changing demographics, we must maintain and recruit a diverse force that is going to reflect society 20 to 30 years from now,” said Evensen.
The Marine Corps partnership with MEAC is one way the Marine Corps is committed to generating and sustaining a future force that will not only meet but exceed our Nations requirements.