Athletes, Leaders Excel at Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl

Athletes, Leaders Excel at Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl

Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl Team East defensive end Joe Gazian, a Westwood, Mass., native, and Sgt Ivan Colina, a drill instructor from Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., honor the colors Jan. 4, 2015, at The StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. The Semper Fidelis All-American bowl brings together approximately 100 student-athletes from across the country who have demonstrated success both on and off the field. Photo by Sgt Erik S. Brooks Jr.

CARSON, Calif. – Marines mentor and shape the nation's best and brightest with the Semper Fidelis Football Program in a weeklong practice and mentoring event with approximately 100 student-athletes from across the country who have demonstrated success both on and off the field. The Marines, along with NFL and collegiate level football coaches, helped players to develop skills not only important to football, but also in leadership and character.

"We take young student-athletes, who have proven their skills on the football field, couple that with their scholastic achievements in school and their leadership in their communities and (these qualities) fit in very well with one of the Marine Corps missions, which is to return Marines as good citizens back to their communities," said MajGen Mark Brilakis, Commanding General, Marine Corps Recruiting Command. 

The Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl is unique because the hand-picked players from across the nation are among the most talented athletes, are high-academic performers and have demonstrated commitment to positive contribution to their home communities, according to Col Robert G. Golden III, Chief of Staff, MCRC.

A huge driving factor for the program is the commitment from the Marines and coaches to show these student-athletes, who have already proven themselves physically and academically, the true meaning of honor, courage and commitment. 

Aside from practicing, participating in team building events and developing positive intangible qualities through interaction with guest speakers and Marines, the players visited young boys and girls from Carson, Calif. community service activity. The athletes and Marines played games with the children and spoke to them about being good citizens. The community event taught players about the importance of being a positive presence in their respective neighborhoods.

"I'm actually glad to be here because I honestly haven't been somewhere like this to give back to a lot of kids, so it's actually a privilege to me," said Marshall Wallace, an outside linebacker with John Curtis Christian High School in River Ridge, Louisiana.

The Semper Fidelis Football Program helps Marines actively engage communities nationwide to strengthen relationships and to lend a hand in developing America's future leaders.

"All the young people here today, who are Carson residents, are getting exposed to the Marine Corps in a very positive, reinforcing way, teaching them about how wonderful it is," said Jim Dear, mayor of Carson, California. "I just think all of this coming together today is wonderful."

Drill Instructors from the Marine Corps' Recruit Depots in Parris Island and San Diego played a crucial role in the program and provided a hands-on, practical approach to reinforce the Corps' values of honor, courage and commitment.

"I'm not here to teach them about football," said GySgt Justin Crawn, a drill instructor from Marine Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C. "I'm here to teach them about respect and teamwork."

After a long, hard week of practice with coaches and drill instructors, the players were ready for the finale. 

Team East took home the championship, winning 24-3. However, all the players took home lessons that will stay with them throughout their lives.

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