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SLU Athletics gets a Taste of the Corps

Capt. Thomas Pinnell, USMC

Capt. Thomas Pinnell, USMC

Erin McClelland, Staff Writer

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There is a lot that goes into competing as a Division 1 athlete, and similarly, there is a lot that goes into being a United States Marine. Both are prestigious in their own right but each have very similar necessary skills to be successful: Fitness, leadership, and teamwork.

The Marine Corps started working with the Saint Louis University Baseball Team this past August on the team’s fitness as well as their team culture. Captain Thomas Pinnell, a SLU alumnus (class of 2009) and baseball student-athlete, was recently stationed back in St. Louis and decided to reach out to the baseball coaching staffabout sharing some of the ideals that the Marine Corps has because of their reputation for incredible teamwork and leadership.

Soon, word spread to other coaches in the athletic department, including the Women’s Soccer Team, Field Hockey Team and Softball Team, who also expressed interest in working with the Marines in their
training. So far, the Women’s Soccer Team and the Baseball Team have had activities and workouts with the Marines but other teams have events scheduled in the coming semester. The soccer team participated in the Combat Fitness Test, a test that includes a half mile sprint, ammo can presses and an obstacle course that includes various partner activities like a firefighter carry. The women were broken up into teams and raced each other through the tasks while being sure to support their teammates through the rigorous fitness component.

Freshman Haley Cox said, “The workout for the Marines was pretty intense and competitive and I loved it. It helped our team because it made us work together, step up and show leadership by cheering on our teammates, and it tested our team mentally making it stronger.” She also wants to give her team a shout out for winningthe tasks for the day.

Cox said, “I would tell other teams that do this to push yourselves to the limit because it only makes you better and stronger. [Strive] to pick each other up and cheer them on when they’re struggling to lift an ammo can above their head for the 50th time. Have fun with it and surprise yourself with how well you can do.”

The baseball team had a more involved encounter with the Marines which included three different days of fitness training aswell as leadership seminars following the workouts.

Freshman baseball player Ben Livorsi said, “[The workouts] were tough, but we struggled through them as a team, and I think this team-building training will benefit us in the season. It helped us not only get physically stronger, but it helped us build our mental toughness.”

Two of the workouts that the team participated in was a run at Art Hill in Forest Park as well as a circuit workout which included various stations with different exercises at each. The exercises were followed by short, 20-30-minute leadership workshops to improve the team as individual leaders, but also as a whole team with building trust and reliance on their teammates.

Captain Pinnell said, “We want to teach the teams how to think outside the box in leadership and to trust in each other. It is a leader’s responsibility to foster that trust and we want them to think differently about operating as a team.” The Marine Corps often recruits athletes after they finish their undergraduate, collegiate experience because it involves extremely physically and mentally challenging skills that are developed while playing a sport in such a competitive environment. As a recruiter, Captain Pinnell is looking for potential officers and athletes who are “biased to leadership.”

Captain Pinnell joined the United States Marine Corps after graduating from SLU because his whole life he had the identity of “baseball player,” but when he graduated he no longer had that label.

“I wanted a challenge and I wanted to be a part of something bigger and better than myself,” said Pinnell, “I like to compete and I wanted an identity I could be proud of.” You don’t need to be a collegiate athlete to be a Marine after graduation. What you need is drive, determination, fitness,
strong leadership and the ability to work as a teammate. “The Marines are made up of high-caliber people,” said Pinnell.

Despite this being the first year SLU athletics has worked with the Marines, the success they have seen so far is enough to foresee a continuation of the partnership into this spring as well as next school year.

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SLU Athletics gets a Taste of the Corps