Feb. 23, 2015 --
When we think of U.S. Marines, we think of athletic machines that are year-round athletes. Such athleticism doesn’t appear out of the blue after recruit training. Most Marines were former athletes in high school - participating in sports like wrestling, martial arts, baseball, and football.
Lance Cpl. Gregory A. Meline from Huntington Beach, Calif. is a former Silent Drill Platoon member and is currently a marcher in Company A, the Earth Pigs. He wrestled all four years during high school and performed well enough to qualify for the California State Competitions twice. Meline competed during his junior year but did not place. As a senior he placed eighth in the state.
“It’s different in Cali,” says Meline. “Other states have multiple state competitions for placing, but in California, it’s just one competition, so it’s pretty cool I got what I got.”
Meline received offers to schools such as San Francisco State and Cal Baptist along with letters of interest from Brown and Columbia for his proven effort and skill in wrestling. However, he did not pursue those offers because he knew he was meant to become a Marine.
Meline admired one coach’s desire to excel. The coach was a Mexican immigrant who worked his way up and lived off of coaching and learning about wrestling.
“I would always look up at him after a match,” said Meline. “I just wanted to make him proud. Even when he left to coach at a different school, I’d look up to him and look for him in the stands. My new coaches would be so mad [laughs].”
The Marine Corps Martial Arts Program is a set standard that a Marine should know and be comfortable with in order to defend him/herself overseas.
Lance Cpl. Bobby Sproule, a Company A marcher, is a seemingly calm, cool and quiet Marine from Northern Michigan, but he can jump and deliver unstoppable, spinning round-houses.
Sproule started martial arts at the age of six and continued until he was seventeen. He trained in Tae Kwon Do, and maintains his second degree black belt.
“I would get picked on as a kid, so I joined Tae Kwon Do,” said Sproule. “ Then I wasn’t picked on anymore.”
While training, Sproule participated in many tournaments across the country. He began training for the Junior Olympics, and attended two different schools at different times during the week.
“We traveled a lot - from Wisconsin to Louisiana and everywhere in between,” said Sproule. “We even traveled as far as Fort Lauderdale, Fla.”
Lance Cpl. William C. Blunt, marcher, Company A, was a starting varsity athlete all four years in high school baseball and football from 2009 to 2013, playing baseball for a total of 12 years. He had multiple college offers to several NCAA Division III schools and an offer to attend Purdue University’s baseball camp, but Blunt had a realistic understanding that he would only play for four years and then move on to a regular job. So he decided to join the Marine Corps.
In high school, Blunt’s baseball team made it to the last game before the state championship before being eliminated.
“We should’ve won that game, but we were shut out in the sixth inning,” said Blunt. “It was a real game changer.”
In football, Blunt was a four year starter from 2009 to 2013. He enjoyed playing football, but was injured several times. Football wasn’t something he wanted to continue in college, even though he had additional offers to Division III schools in New York. Blunt’s football team didn’t make it to any major qualifying games due to the fact there wasn’t many “athletes” on the team. Blunt believes many players saw it as just something to do. Regardless of his team’s rankings in the state, this war hound remains a top notch athlete.
Marines are built from the ground up. Marines are built from previous experiences. Marines possess an intrinsic desire to succeed along with the athletic prowess necessary to perform their duty to its fullest extent when called upon. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that Company A has so much athletic talent.