MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C -- The teamwork formed when enlisted Marines work side-by-side with commissioned officers is one of the Marine Corps most successful aspects. This bond becomes a powerful tool used to facilitate the everyday mission of the Marine Corps.
This tool can also be applied to in other aspects of life, including recreation, and sports. First Lt. Karl W. Schlegel and Lance Cpl. Baldemar Pardo displayed the strength of this tool by coming together as captains of the 2nd Marine Division Soccer Team to capture the East Coast Regional Soccer Championship Oct. 13.
The tournament was held at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point. There were teams participating this year from 2nd Marine Division, 2nd Force Service Support Group, Henderson Hall, Marine Corps Base Quantico, Marine Corps Air Station New River and Cherry Point.
With a team of 16 and 1 coach, the division players overcame five games in the intramural tournament regular season and four in the East Coast Regional tournament. The team only lost one game.
“In the first phase of the tournament we played the Quantico team and lost, but the Marines to never give up,” Pardo said. “Even after we lost one game we knew we could refrain ourselves and learn from our mistakes.
“We trained for a week straight a couple of times a day and it showed in the tournament,” he continued. “We played Quantico in the end and won 1-0, controlling the whole game on their half of the field. They had a few attacks but it was controlled by our defense.”
Working hard paid off especially for Schlegel who scored the winning goal.
“It is always a great feeling to bring home the "hardware"/trophy to Division,” Schlegel said. “For me, after just leaving Iraq and checking into a new unit and preparing for another deployment, it really meant allot to me. Many of my Marines from RCT-2 communications platoon are still over there. All of them remain in my heart and prayers for a safe return home to their loved ones. I do believe many of the players from the team, being from the division are in similar situations and it made us come together as a team.
“I can't speak for the other teams and how often they trained together prior to the tournament but I do know that our team was very dedicated,” Schlegel continued. “We conducted two-a-day practices for almost two weeks prior to the tournament beginning. Personally the win was "better-sweet" because last year Quantico was the team that beat us in the semi finials and they went on to win the tournament last year.”
Pardo led the defense in such a way he was selected for the all-tournament team.
“Many coaches in numerous sports have been quoted ‘the key to a good offence is a good defense,’” Schlegel said. “Well in our case Pardo controlled all of our games from the back playing in the "sweeper" position. He was selected to the All-tournament team and in my opinion would have been selected as the tournament MVP if that was one of the categories.”
In many ways, the officer-enlisted team dynamic contributed to achieving their final goal of winning the championship.
“I think we both lead by example, which is a leadership trait we both learned from basic training whether it was The Basic School for him or the Marine Corps Recruit Depot for me.” Pardo explained.
Of course leading Marines or a team for Schlegel is all about earning respect first.
“I have always said, "it is an honor to have been given the opportunity to lead Marines as an officer, but on the playing field you earn your respect a different way.” Schlegel said. “I do want to thank all of the commanders for allowing the players to play because soccer is a team sport no one player can win a game without his teammates.”
The Marines don’t take winning the East Coast Regional Soccer Championship lightly.
“It was the greatest feeling,” Pardo said. “Last years I had a groin injury that kept me out of the tournament and I was on limited duty for about 9 months. [So returning this year] and winning was a great satisfaction and it paid off.”