News: 26th MEU Gamecocks strut their stuff
Story by Lance Cpl. Joshua Brown
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - It isn’t major league sports. It isn’t semi-professional. It isn’t baseball, but as the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) Gamecocks softball coach, Staff Sgt. Tyler M. Duffey, put it “It’s the next best thing.”
The Marine Corps offers a variety of intramural sports at different installations across the country. Some Marines assigned to the 26th MEU are actively involved in the intramural softball league aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune which helps exercise a number of Marine Corps traits and allows them capitalize on the benefits of playing sports during off-duty hours.
“It’s fun for me and the Marines,” said Duffey. “It takes your mind away from work and is definitely a stress reliever.”
Playing for the team is voluntary, but it is encouraged that Marines and sailors assigned to the MEU participate to take advantage of the off-duty opportunity, get involved in an athletic program, and compliment unit camaraderie.
“Winning is the goal, but teamwork comes first,” said Duffey. “On the field we’re on equal ground and working as a team takes priority over rank.”
The team is comprised of Marines and sailors of varying ranks and occupational specialties. The positions and hierarchy of the team is not determined by rank, rather it is determined by the skills and proficiencies of the players and their experience in the sport.
“You see Marines outside the office and their competitive personalities come out,” said Duffey. “It shows them in a different light when you see them striving for success in a non-work environment.”
The team’s current goal is to make the league playoffs and recover from their current record of 1-6.
Cpl. Seth D. Lowery, a 26th MEU Gamecock, said “We’re relying on each other to get better and pull through.”
Lowery is no stranger in the realms of softball and baseball. As a kid, he played Little League Baseball while growing up in Albion, N.Y., and played on his church’s softball team.
“We do the best we can and have a good time,” said Lowery. “Staff Sergeant Duffey is a good coach and he stresses the importance of working together and having fun.”
Lowery said Duffey takes a professional approach to coaching and reminds him of the coaches he had during his time in the Little League.
“One time Staff Sergeant told me ‘out here I’m not your Staff Sergeant, I’m your coach,’” said Lowery. “We’re encouraged to help each other and we give advice with tact and respect no matter the rank.”
With their current record, the Gamecocks have to win all of their remaining games to have a chance at making the league playoffs.
After their game last Thursday, Duffey said that it isn’t impossible, but they need to work on the fundamentals and continue to improve on what they’re doing well to make it happen.
“Winning is secondary,” said Duffey. “I want the team to apply the fundamentals, keep it simple, give one-hundred and ten percent, and remember it’s a team effort. The winning will come after that.”