Marine Corps experience (VB Mag excerpt)

So sometimes when you hit the middle portion of your life, you do something crazy. Usually for middle-aged men, this takes the form of a new car, boat, or going to Vegas to get married in an Elvis chapel.

Not me.

I’m a volleyball coach.

In February, I applied for a U.S. Marine Corps Leadership Course to be held in May in Quantico, Virginia. I filled out paperwork related to my coaching history and success, but I was also asked to answer questions regarding my knowledge of the U.S. military. The instructions said those selected would be notified in April. Curious, I went to look at past selected coaches. They weren’t all volleyball; they were from all sports. The one thing I did notice though was they were all people you’ve heard of — in volleyball terms, like Michigan’s Mark Rosen  (who did the course last year). Not a single two-year college coach on the lists. Great.

So when I received word the final week of April that I was selected, I was surprised. Excited, too. The local officer called and within 30 minutes, I had more forms to fill out and the itinerary for the four days. Shortly after, I said to myself, “I wonder if would be interested in hearing about this.” Turns out the answer was yes, so here I am, writing a diary of my leadership training with the USMC at their Officer Candidate School.

Prelude: There’s some interesting stuff before leaving. The first was the gear list they suggested coaches bring. The big ones for me were the baseball cap along with the long-sleeve t-shirt and bug spray. Sunburns and ticks. The Marines Corps made sure to provide a dress code with the itinerary, so I’m set for athletic activity and looking good (as much I can at least) for functions in the classroom and evening. While coaches are to be in business casual attire, in the evenings, the Marines are to be in their dress blues — and Marine and Army dress blues are the best looking uniforms around.

The second big thing was the itinerary. Day one is primarily travel, but during dinner, there’s an overview briefing scheduled and coaches will be assigned to squads (for those unfamiliar with military stuff, squads are small units of 8-12 men, depending on whose military and branch you are working with).

Day two starts with PT (Physical Torture—Training) at 0630 followed by two hours of classroom leadership discussion, lunch, then moving to the field for the Leadership Reaction Course and Obstacle Course. After cleaning up, dinner and a briefing on the role of ethics and integrity on leadership.

Day three has coaches learning to use pugil sticks (mouth guards were on the list of things to bring), basic martial arts, discussions with the lieutenants doing the training, small-unit exercises, and the day will conclude with a military parade. The final day is supposed to have one more talk, but just as cool, two hours are allotted to exploring the Marine Corps’ museum — Chesty Puller exhibits, here I come.

The third — that’s the waiver you sign. Repeatedly in bold print, it says you won’t hold the Marines responsible for anything that happens in the field or the classroom, and that accidents happen all the time. They’ll try and keep you alive, but, well, them’s the breaks, y’know? I made sure my physical was up to date and did a heart stress test — you never know about these sorts of things.

Want to read the full thing?  Head over to to check it out!



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