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    Rising to a Marine and More

    Rising to a Marine and More

    Photo By Lance Cpl. Gustavo Romero | U.S. Marine Corps Corporal Ricardo Gonzalez Jr, an administrative specialist with...... read more read more

    MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, VA, UNITED STATES

    10.14.2022

    Story by Lance Cpl. Gustavo Romero 

    Marine Corps Recruiting Command           

    MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. – New to the game, a broad-shouldered young man catches a large oblong ball from a teammate and charges down the pitch. He storms past other players, even knocking one opposing player down. Other players at the practice knew the new player meant business and was serious about the sport. A few years from this day, that rookie Rugby player would one day make it to the All-Marine Rugby Team.

    “They passed me the ball, and I took off running, and some guy thought he would tackle me,” said U.S. Marine Corp Cpl. Ricardo Gonzalez Jr., an administrative specialist with Marine Corps Recruiting Command. “I laid him out, and everyone was like, ‘whoa, didn’t know you had it in you and from there on out, they realized that I was here to stay.”

    According to Gonzalez, a Pottstown, Penn. native, he needed a slight push to help him decide his path. Growing up, Gonzalez had a brother in the Army and a father who spoke fondly about the military. He saw a commercial featuring the Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon flipping rifles while performing drills, and he asked his father about who are the people in those uniforms.

    “That’s the United States Marine Corps. They’re the best of the best,” said his father, Ricardo Gonzalez Senior. “If you’re going to be somebody, you got to be that.”

    Years after that experience, Gonzalez started the process of joining the Marines while attending Pottstown High School, and he earned the title of Marine shortly after. He chose to serve in the Marine Corps reserves. While serving in the reserves, he has volunteered for active duty orders. Volunteering for these orders allows him to do full-time military service instead of one weekend a month and two weeks a year. He was on active orders working with Marine Forces Reserve, New Orleans, when he first joined a Rugby team. He played football growing up, but he never tried Rugby until coming to New Orleans almost two years ago.

    “A buddy of mine saw my size, and he asked if I ever played Rugby. I said ‘no,’” said Gonzalez. “He said, ‘come on out, and I went for practice. I fell in love with it instantly.”

    Gonzales’s friend played with the All-Marine Rugby, and his coach for Rugby was previously a team member. They gave him contacts for the coaches for the All-Marine team, and he was allowed to come out to the tryout.

    “I went TAD (temporary additional duty) in August to head to Glendale, Colorado, RugbyTown USA,” said Gonzalez. “I went there for the initial tryout camp. Unfortunately, I didn’t make the cut. They told me not to worry and to stick around for practice, and the coach might change his mind. You never know.”

    There was another Marine from his same unit that went to the tryouts. U.S. Marine Second Lt. Sam Follansbee, judge advocate and a native of Annandale, New Jersey, was a teammate with Gonzalez and met him at the tryouts for the All-Marine team.

    “Cpl Gonzalez is a team player. He is selfless and dedicated to the mission above all else.” said Follansbee. “At the Armed Forces Rugby Championship Tournament, Cpl Gonzalez embraced his role on the All-Marine team contributing most to our success on the practice field.”

    The coach approached him on the tournament day and let Gonzalez know he had made the roster. He would be the 15th man in case anyone went down for injuries. It was challenging at the tryouts, pushing them to their limits. They would go on to win their first game, but they weren’t so fortunate in the rest of the tournament.

    “The tournament as a whole went well. A lot of learning points not just for the team but myself on how to better my game and leadership traits,” said Gonzalez. “The team won our first match but had some shortcomings the rest of the tournament, unfortunately. With those shortcomings, we learned a lot as a team, though, I will say.”

    Now he has another challenge ahead of him, balancing Marine life and being part of a sport. As a Marine, you must stay mentally agile and physically fit. Playing sports may help to maintain and improve both attributes.
    “I go to the gym, but I just like to lift weights,” said Gonzalez. “Playing Rugby allows me to get the cardio in, fun cardio. No one wants to run every day, but not only do I get my cardio in, but I’m having fun doing it.”
    Gonzalez’s advice to get into the sports teams as a service member is to do your research and connect with people. He says networking is a big thing when it comes to sports, and someone knows somebody in the sports world, and they’ll point you on the right path.

    “Don’t ever be afraid to try something new,” said Gonzalez. “Rugby was new to me, and I instantly fell in love with it. I never thought I would pursue it because, you know, it’s America. We play football. I overcame that fear, went out there, and said, ‘I’m going give this a shot.’ ”

    Gonzalez plays in the local Prince William County Rugby Football Club Owls. It consists of local individuals, company directors, drillers, government workers, the military, and much more in Prince William County. Gonzalez joined the club in April 2022 upon arriving here with his new orders at Marine Corps Recruiting Command.
    Gonzalez has 16 months left in Marine Corps Recruiting Command until he gets new orders for his next assignment and will continue to play Rugby until “the wheels fall off.”

    “I would like to continue in my career as a Marine. It’s been a strange, tough, and interesting 12 years of service so far, so if Uncle Sam wants me to stay, let’s do I,” said Gonzalez. “But if the Big Man up top has a different plan for the next chapter of my life, who am to deny what he has planned? Maybe I’ll go back to being a Law Enforcement Officer again. I’ll cross that road when I get there.”

    “Here I am doing what I love, and I love being a Marine. I’ve been here for a long time, and I love it,” said Gonzalez. “I have a newfound love for rugby.”

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 10.14.2022
    Date Posted: 10.14.2022 08:47
    Story ID: 431307
    Location: MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, VA, US 
    Hometown: POTTSTOWN, PA, US

    Web Views: 35
    Downloads: 1

    PUBLIC DOMAIN