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The Driver's Seat: Veteran’s Day has special meaning for MU athletics

The Driver's Seat: Veteran’s Day has special meaning for MU athletics

ARLINGTON, Va. – There has been a long connection between the U.S. military and American athletes. During World War II, future Hall of Fame baseball players Ted Williams and Bob Feller were just two of the many pro athletes who served.

In more modern times, the late Pat Tillman, who played for the Arizona Cardinals of the National Football League, became an inspiration to many before and after his death in 2004.

Among active players today, lineman Alejandro Villanueva of the Pittsburgh Steelers is featured on national commercials that notes his service as a former Army Ranger.

While Marymount student-athletes, coaches and support personnel operate away from the bright pro lights at the Division III level, their military service is no less significant. With Veteran's Day on Friday, November 11, here is a brief look at five of them as they address the meaning of the holiday and how their time in the military aids them with the Saints.

Jorge De la 0 Moreno, Men's Soccer Senior Forward

A senior forward this past season, De la O Moreno joined the Marines in 2009 and was later deployed to Afghanistan for seven months. Later, he was stationed in North Carolina. After four years of active duty, he left in 2013 as the rank of corporal and is now in the Marine Corps reserves. He went to nearby H.B. Woodlawn in Arlington for high school.

How does your military experience translate into MU athletics, in terms of leadership and teamwork?

"I think that being part of the soccer team in MU makes me remember the team work I did in the military, everybody working hard and always looking up for one another, motivate them to work hard to be better."

What does Veteran's Day mean to you?

"Veteran's Day for me is a special day that I can celebrate with the rest of my fellow veterans who served time in the military, and also it makes me remember many great memories while on active duty."

Michael Posey, Men's Lacrosse Freshman Midfielder

Posey is a freshman at MU after spending four years in the U.S. Marine Corps, based in Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. He played four years of lacrosse and one year of football at nearby Bishop O'Connell High in Arlington before he graduated in 2011.

How does your military experience translate into MU athletics, in terms of leadership and teamwork?

"I think the Marine Corps teaches us how to deal with different levels of camaraderie. In terms of leadership, you are (sometimes) placed in positions where you are not really comfortable but you have to lead a group and it has to get done. That is how I see sports as well, especially in the off-season that is key."

What does Veteran's Day mean to you?

"For me it is help the (veteran) guys that need help. We did not come back scarred (from battle) but a lot of guys are having problems re-entering into social settings that are not in the military. It should be a day that helps those guys and they should be accepted."

Ryan Wildenhain, Head of Sports Medicine

Wildenhain, who came to MU in 2015, was in the United States Air Force from 2003-07 as a Tactical Aircraft Maintenance Journeyman and HVAC/R Apprentice. He was hand selected for supplemental deployment to Kwang Ju Air Base in Korea and was deployed at Kadena Air Base in Japan before he was honorably discharged in 2007. He played football at his high school in Illinois.

How does your military experience translate into MU athletics, in terms of leadership and teamwork?

"My position compares well with being a mechanic on jets. If you pretend that the athlete is an aircraft and things don't work, you have to take corrective action and you have paperwork to do after that. You have to determine what is wrong and the root cause and then you take corrective action. From a leadership standpoint being in the military, I had people teach me how to be a leader. I rose to being the head of sports medicine pretty quickly. Having good situational awareness came from the military. Put people in a position to succeed but be sure they don't burn out. Some people (in sports medicine) put in 50 to 60 hours per week. You are never getting that free time with family and friends. I think our coaches have worked well with accommodating us. I am able to stay calm with coaches, physicians and student-athletes" thanks to military experience.

What does Veteran's Day mean to you?

"It means a lot to me. I chose to go into the military in part because my grandfather served in the military and my father served in the Army. It means a great deal to me in honoring my father and on top of that the sacrifices I have seen military personnel go through is second to none. It is a great day to honor them and their sacrifice."

Nicole Yedlinsky, Sports Medicine Fellow

In high school, Yedlinsky played tennis and threw the shot put and discus in New Jersey. She then served from 2001-08 in the Army medical corps as a physician and was stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, Fort Polk in Louisiana and Fort Hood in Texas. She joined the Marymount staff this past summer.

How does your military experience translate into MU athletics, in terms of leadership and teamwork?

"I would say that every service member is an athlete to some degree. As a result I get to see and take care of a plethora of injuries. That helped shape my ability as a physician to better take care of student-athletes at this point."

What does Veteran's Day mean to you?

"It is a time to honor those who have served in the Armed Forces."

Shawn Yoder, Men's Volleyball Assistant Coach

Yoder spent more than eight years in the U.S. Army as an Interrogator, Linguist and Media exploitation specialist. He was stationed in Utah and deployed to Iraq from 2010-11 and also was in Japan, Guatemala, Germany and Portugal. Yoder speaks fluent Portugese and French and is also conversational in Spanish. Both grandfathers took part in World War II, and his great-grandfather was also in the military.

How does your military experience translate into MU athletics, in terms of leadership and teamwork?

"I was a squad leader for part of my time in Iraq. That gives you an idea of what you need to accomplish, what people need to do on time and on task. Understanding how to earn the respect of your troop and your subordinates" is vital.

What does Veteran's Day mean to you?

"To me personally, it kind of makes me reflect more so on the lives of other people, especially my grandfathers and great-grandfather. It is more of a reflective time."

 

Editor's note: David Driver is a special consultant to the MU athletic department. He can be reached at www.davidsdriver.com

 

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