MOHS Football Teams Up With Marines

by Ashley Bouwense

The Mt. Olive High School football team trained on Mon., June 13, but it was not its typical day at practice.

The Marine Corps visited the team for the day providing players with some leadership training.

This is the first time MOHS will host the Marine Corps for a day of leadership workshops and physical fitness training.

The United States Marine Corps (USMC) leadership seminar includes: introductions to the USMC; a presentation on the USMC’s 14 Leadership Traits and 11 Leadership Principals; an interactive discussion; a Q-and-A period; and physical fitness exercises.

“The leadership seminar is all about building cohesion, communication and motivation within the team,” Staff Sergeant Jeremy Curcio said.

Curcio is that Station Commander for the Marine Corps Recruiting Substation Northwest in Rockaway. He and three to four additional members of the USMC led the seminar.

During the first portion of the seminar, leaders asked what the players and coaches are looking to gain from this experience: Does the team need to learn better communication, for example?

After a couple hours of workshops, the 70 varsity players were led outside on the football field to participate in physical fitness challenges. This is where the teams’ weakness will be addressed and where the USMC will help train the team to work together to overcome the difficulties they face.

Part of an informational video about the Marine Corps Leadership Seminar reads, “The lessons learned from the guided discussion are reinforced in a Marine-led, practical application exercise[s]”, which focus on leadership, teamwork and character.

First, the players did some warm-up exercises as a group. Then, the USMC volunteers split the group into four teams. Each team underwent an obstacle course comprised of eight sections.  These obstacles, like carrying a teammate over a shoulder; participating in four-man push-ups; and pushing a 500-pound ammunition cart across the field, are meant to test the players physically and mentally.

“It’s all about the team building,” said Head Coach Brian O’Connor. “It teaches the players to start working together and to have the Marines teach them will be a positive influence.”

O’Connor has had the USMC work with his high school football team in Wayne, and he knew the seminar would be a great benefit for his MOHS players.

The Marine Corps Recruiting Substation Northwest works with 29 high schools and two colleges in Sussex and Morris Counties. There are 14 recruiting stations in NJ.

The leadership seminar was developed about seven years ago as a community outreach program for the USMC. The Marine Corp believes applying the 14 Leadership Traits and 11 Leadership Principles to teams will equip them with tools for success; these traits and principles are the hallmark of the USMC.

The 14 traits include: justice, judgement, dependability, initiative, decisiveness, tact, integrity, enthusiasm, bearing, unselfishness, courage, knowledge, loyalty and endurance.

The 11 principles include: be technically and tactfully proficient; know oneself and seek self-improvement; know the Marines and look out for their welfare; keep the Marines informed; set the example; ensure the task is understood, supervised and accomplished;  train the Marines as a team; make sound and timely decisions; develop a sense of responsibility among subordinates; employ the command in accordance with its capabilities; and seek responsibility and take responsibility for one’s actions.

“This will be a good physical and mental challenge for the players,” O’Conner said. “I am hoping that the kids learn and have fun, as well as pay respect to and show their thanks for the USMC’s service.”

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