II MEF Marines reach out to young athletes

23 May 2006 | Sgt. Tracee L. Jackson

II Marine Expeditionary Force  works around the world and around the clock as a massive entity to support the War on Terrorism and the strength of the pack is found in the individual Marines and sailors who work overtime to accomplish their mission and keep up with the operational tempo.

Despite limited free time, two II MEF Marines have found a way to stay on the fast track and contribute to the local community.

Cpl. Junior M. Bazile, Marine Air/Ground Task Force noncommissioned officer, and Lance Cpl. Nicholas J. Wolff, MAGTF planner, volunteer as assistant coaches for the Marine Corps Community Services Youth Sports track league.

Under the watchful eye of head coach Wes Durden, a civilian computer analyst for the MEF Operations section, these Marines work with approximately 20 military children ranging from 5 to 9 years old to hone their skills in running, softball throwing and the long jump.

Having a full-time job and adding the additional responsibility to coach the “Flames,” can create a time crunch, said Wolff.

“It’s tough to balance work and other stuff,” said the 19-year-old native of Waverly, Neb. “Sometimes I have to work late, but when it works out, it’s a lot of fun and it’s definitely interesting to interact with the young’uns.”

The rewards of serving as a mentor to the children and seeing them work up a sweat is worth the schedule shuffling involved, said Wolff, who is looking for opportunities to expand his volunteer experience beyond track season

“Volunteers have to go through a training course and get a background check,” said Wolff. “You also have to watch a two-hour video, but it’s not that bad.”

Bazile agreed.

“I like to come out here  just to motivate them. I think it’s interesting and a lot of fun to see how the kids put out so much effort. They have a lot of energy,” said Bazile.

He learned about the rewards of volunteering and became involved via circumstance.

“One of my friends was a previous coach, but she got out of the Marine Corps, so I took her spot,” Bazile explained.

The two Marines meet their team on Tuesday nights to administer intense training and practice for organized meets sponsored by MCCS, where the Flames race their peers to the finish line.

“I try to help them get better at track, but more importantly, they should have fun. Kids enjoy doing things a lot more when they think they’re having fun,” said Bazile.

Although there is a loose scoring system in place, the experience is geared to increase confidence and teach teamwork to the next generation, according to Wolff.

Bazile agreed, “At this stage in the game, it’s all about having fun.”

Life lessons learned on the track with the help of volunteers like Bazile and Wolff may one day lead these young athletes to become the Marine Corps’ newest defenders of freedom.