Marines help students wrestle with future choices
By Sgt. Theresa E. Seng
| | February 11, 2006
RICHMOND, Va. --
With the war in Iraq ongoing and the media coverage endless, many in today’s world are under the impression that joining the military means going straight to war.
Not the case for Staff Sgt. James R. Shillow and Lance Cpl. Joseph W. Zinkan, two Marines on the All Marine Wrestling Team from Quantico, Va., who visited Recruiting Station Richmond Dec. 15-17.
The two visited high schools in Recruiting Sub-station Richmond Main and Richmond South’s area running clinics to the high school wrestling teams.
“These Marine wrestlers have opened up doors for the recruiters,” said Gunnery Sgt. Curtis G. Eaton, staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge of Richmond South. “A lot of times people have their horse blinders on and think the Marine Corps equals combat. This shows there are other things to do, including sports on a highly competitive level.”
The recruiters always tell applicants and poolees of other opportunities in the Corps, but to see a Marine who does it instead of looking at an eight by ten glossy really makes it a reality for them, continued Eaton.
“We’re here to show non-Marines there are other things to do in the Corps other than going to war,” said Shillow, who’s been on the team for seven years. “We don’t come in and push the Corps on them, we just show them what we do.”
Roderick Cousins, a junior at Highland Springs who’s been wrestling for three years, talked to Zinkan about the Marine Corps and if it might be a good fit for him. “He was also asking for tips and pointers on what he needs to do to improve his wrestling. I think they really look up to us.”
The students aren’t the only ones who responded well to the wrestlers. The coaches were more than happy to have wrestlers on a specialized level talk to their students.
“This is great,” said Jimmy Cox, head coach for the Midlothian High School wrestling team. “The fact that these kids can hear from world-class wrestlers the same stuff we try to pound in their heads is really good.”
The trip was beneficial for the wrestling teams the Marines visited, but according to Eaton, it had a major impact upon the recruiters and their efforts.
On a scale of one to 10, this trip is a 10, he said. It would be even better if there was more time. The recruiters learned a lot from the athletes, and the coaches invited them out for the regional meet.
“This has really helped the recruiters mainly because it shows the coaches and kids there is an opportunity to continue with athletics in the Corps,” Eaton continued. “In the short-term, out of 20 seniors two should be contracted, and in the long-term the doors are open for the recruiters to contract those kids who were teetering between college and the Corps.”
Eaton said he hopes there are more visits from All Marine Teams in the future.