WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. --
Marine Corps Recruiting Command attended the 2012 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Basketball Championships for the first time in Winston-Salem, N.C., March 5-10. The command partnered with MEAC in order to create awareness about officer programs and opportunities in the Marine Corps.
During one of the engagement events, Col. Rickey L. Grabowski, Eastern Recruiting Region chief of staff, told hundreds of students, athletes, university presidents, athletic department personnel and college administrators that “the engagement was about passing on a legacy”.
“We’re not here on a recruiting mission,” Grabowski said. “We’re here to tell you the Marine Corps’ story. We’re here to tell the centers of influence, the movers and shakers, the professors, the clergy, the players—people who can really have an impact, what the Marine Corps is about.”
Grabowski’s primary focus at MEAC was the strength of Marine Corps leadership. He highlighted the importance of the Marine Corps’ legacy of leadership, both in the military and the civilian realm.
During the MEAC Hall of Fame brunch, Grabowski had the honor of presenting one of the inductees with a leadership award endorsed by the Commandant of the Marine Corps. He presented Alisha “Tuff” Hill the United States Marine Corps Excellence in Leadership Award. The award is presented to individuals who exhibit Marine Corps ideals in their daily lives and careers.
“Hill has demonstrated the Marine Corps core values of honor, courage and commitment,” Grabowski said. “She has demonstrated not only in her athletic endeavors in college during the late ‘90s, but also through charitable outreaches in subsequent years.”
Hill, a former basketball player at Howard University, is the MEAC women's basketball all-time leading scorer. She also earned MEAC Tournament Outstanding Performer honors in 1997 and 1998, but she indicated that although she’s grateful for her place in the MEAC Hall of Fame and takes pride in her achievements, she has far greater respect for the men and women of the armed services.
“The Marines deserve all the honor in the world,” said Hill. “You go out and do what ninety-nine percent of us could never do. I don’t deserve an award. I didn’t cure cancer. I don’t go fight a war every day. I just play basketball. We could all do that. So I want to thank you all for letting me live my life free.”
Tarvis Williams, a Hampton University graduate who currently plays professional basketball in the Czech Republic, also took a moment to honor the Corps as he accepted his 2012 MEAC Hall of Fame induction.
“The freedoms we have here, it’s not the same for a lot of other countries in the world,” said Williams. “I really appreciate you’re service, and what you give us—allowing us to have those freedoms. A lot of us just take it for granted. We don’t think about it because we’re born into this life, but it’s precious. And so I’d like to thank you for that and for your service.”
Throughout the weeklong partnership, the Marine Corps took advantage of every opportunity to spread its message of opportunity. In addition to presenting an award at the Hall of Fame Awards Brunch, the Marines manned recruiting booths at a college fair and at each of the tournament competitions. In addition, Marines were able to engage university chancellors, presidents and influencers while attending the Presidents’ Breakfast.
Major Jennifer Nash, commanding officer, Recruiting Station Raleigh believes the Corps was extremely successful in fostering an effective relationship in the MEAC community.
“We’ve laid a solid foundation, and in future years as we return to MEAC, we will continue to see the growth and development of that relationship,” she said. “I think that’s a really encouraging thing.”
Echoing Grabowski’s comments, Nash stated that she hoped to reach the influencers and educators – “to tell our story and to inform them of leadership opportunities in the Marine Corps.”