MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Once the clocks reach 5 p.m. many Marines pack up, head home or to their barracks and hang out or help out around their homes. For them, the day is over and now is their time to relax and shrug off the stresses of the day.
For Lance Corporals Alexys Quintero and Jose Medrano, disbursing Marines with Headquarters and Support Battalion, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, however, the day is far from over.
Quintero and Medrano, coaches with the Jacksonville Area Soccer Association, spend countless hours training their teams after work and on weekends. Their teams, which consist of a team of five-year-olds and under, called the Kicks, and the eight-year-olds and under, the Hurricanes, are constantly training as their coaches work with them to get to the top.
“Our gunny is the one that got both of us into this. He knew we played soccer and was asking for volunteers so we both agreed,” said Quintero. “Medrano signed up after he was finished with night school.”
Now, both Marines push themselves to finish their work by 4:30 p.m. so they can be released early and make it to their soccer practices on time.
On Mondays, they train their youngest soccer enthusiasts, the Kicks, and on Tuesdays and Thursdays, they work with the Hurricanes.
“We’re having them run laps, do circuits, and practice their techniques so they can work better as a team and hopefully take them to the top,” said Medrano. “We’ve only lost one game and have beat the previously undefeated teams so we’re getting better.”
For the two Marines this is a time for them to get out in the community and interact and teach children something they are interested in.
“It’s a pretty good experience to be able to teach these kids something that I love to do, and we both enjoy giving back to the community and helping nourish a sport that is growing,” said Quintero.
On occasion, the players may become bored, but when this happens both coaches come together and work out something that will raise the children’s enthusiasm.
“We’ve had them chase around different colored soccer balls or try and work together and take the ball away from one of us,” said Medrano.
For the Marines, teaching soccer to the children is not just about passing on the knowledge and love of the sport, but also to help build themselves up as Marines.
“It has taught me a lot of patience, communication and ensuring that all my work is done on time and all the equipment needed is accounted for has helped me be more responsible,” said Quintero. “These are all things I can carry on over to the Marine Corps and will help me out as a ‘lifer’.”
The young soccer players’ parents have also begun to think highly of the two young coaches.
“They’re doing a great job. You can tell by the smile on the kids’ faces, it’s not often that someone takes time out of their week to do something like this,” said Patty Rodriguez, the team mom for the Hurricanes. “They’re creative and come up with ways to make training fun and on game days, you see all the work the coaches put into training the children come out when the kids work together as a cohesive team.”