National-guard

Men in (Multiple) Uniforms

THIS LORAS WRESTLERS ARE PROUD TO SERVE IN THE NATIONAL GUARD

When they take the mat for the Loras wrestling team, seven Duhawks represent more than just their college.

Guy Patron Jr. (’20), Nathan Pitts (’21), Stevie Lee(’22), Mateo Sanchez (’21), Richard Hunter (’21), Reis Ginter (’22) and Brandon Turner (’21) are all serving in the United States National Guard in addition to attending Loras.

Back Row: Guy Patron, Jr. (’20), Nathan Pitts (’21), Front Row: Stevie Lee (’22). Reis Ginter (’22), Mateo Sanchez (’21)

When Patron got his initial experience with the Guard during his first year, he was able to learn more as the year progressed and realized it was a good fit for him.

“When I got back to school to start my second year is when I enrolled. I was active for the whole school year and left for boot camp in May for the entire summer. Being away from everyone made for a long summer, but I made a lot of money and got a lot out of it.”

Ginter was quicker to commit, in part due to a military tradition in his family.

“I joined the Guard in April 2017 and went to boot camp the same year,” he explained. “I enrolled not knowing anything since I didn’t have any pre-boot camp training, but I adapted pretty quickly. The reason I joined is because I have a father in the Navy and a grandfather in the Air Force. I also wanted to help pay for my schooling.”

Regardless of other motivations, the Guard continues to play a significant role in helping each Duhawk navigate the financial demands of higher education.

“I joined because I was worried about college debt, and my brother talked to me about it,” explained Lee. “He said it would be smart to do. The Guard put me in the right position and helped me out. It changed my life.”

Head Wrestling Coach TJ Miller explained that the National Guard provides an option for students to consider when looking at attending Loras.

“This isn’t anything that is forced by us. There have been a few kids who aren’t sure they can afford the education, so we introduced them to recruiters in the Guard and explained what the Guard can do for them. It seems like wrestlers are just more inclined to be interested in the military.”

Pitts recalled how his introduction to the Guard served two purposes.

“I came up here for a visit, and as we were looking at financial aid, I knew I didn’t have enough money to support myself. Coach Miller pulled me aside and told me about the Guard, and it was something I always wanted to do since my older brother was in it. I took the opportunity.”

For Sanchez, the transition of moving from Fresno, Calif., to attend Loras was made easier by his Guard experience. He also feels it will continue to benefit him once he earns his degree.

“The Guard helped me because I am so far away from home and haven’t been away this long before. It helped me adapt to a different pace, manage finances and continue my education. After school, it will be something I can use as a stepping stone to start a career.”

Miller has seen a noticeable difference in how the student-athletes have benefited from their Guard experience.

“There was one student-athlete who was struggling with discipline and organization. He went through basic training, and it really changed him for the better. He is on top of things and more organized. I don’t think any of them have had a bad experience.”Each wrestler is quick to point out the pride they feel as a member of the Guard, but they advise anyone thinking about signing up to make sure they are ready for the challenge.