OCEANSIDE, Calif. --
Corporal Rene Gonzalez fell in love with the beautiful game of soccer at an early age. His competitive character and vigorous work ethic naturally drew him to the sport.
Those characteristics are also what inspired Gonzalez, a data network specialist stationed with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, to become a Marine.
In this interview the 21 year old from Joliet, Illinois, tells us how the lessons and tactics he’s learned on the pitch have led him to become a successful Marine and leader in his unit.
Q: How and when were you first introduced to soccer?
A: Soccer is my passion. I grew up with it. It was the only ball we had [growing up]. So soccer was pretty much my childhood. My best friend was really into basketball, but then started to play soccer. I followed him and started playing. I fell in love with soccer.
Q: What inspired you to join the Corps?
A: The challenge and brotherhood that my recruiters told me about. For me it’s been very similar to the soccer teams I’ve played on. Things get heated, you’re tired from moving the ball and running, but you come together and hopefully get that win.
Q: What is it about the sport that you love?
A: I love everything about it; the intensity, the teamwork. Especially when you play outside and it’s hot or if it’s raining, or any kind of weather, you feel that adrenaline. It [drives] you. When you finally hit that goal [the crowd] is all you hear.
Q: How do you feel when you score a goal?
A: When somebody makes that one shot where it’s like breath taking; that’s that one goal that gives you chills. That’s that one shot in the game and [you feel like] you’re beyond the game. You feel like you’re [not] just out there playing by yourself, you have that teamwork and your teammates that made it happen.
Q: Soccer has been called the beautiful sport; do you feel like that’s true?
A: Yes. What makes it so beautiful are the teammates who [drive], push you. You’re not there by yourself. You have maybe 10 teammates you know and all of you work together to accomplish that mission and score.
Q: How do you apply what you’ve learned on the pitch to being a leader and your job as a data network specialist?
A: As [Marines] we all work together. We come together and have to think about the best way to go about things and see what’s best for the entire team. The same is true in soccer. Even though you’re making one goal or those two goals, you’re having someone assist you in one way or another. Being a leader on the field takes the same effort and confidence as leading Marines.
Q: What’s one of the hardest things about playing soccer?
A: The hardest thing for me is giving away the ball. Your team can put so much effort into getting into position to score and if you mess up and lose the ball or the other team takes the ball from you, then it’s like all that effort was a waste.
Q: With the FIFA World Cup Final being played right now, the U.S. has been in a soccer craze. Do you feel like the sport is gaining popularity here?
A: You can see every year the sport becomes more popular. Everywhere I go I see more and more people playing and talking about it.
Q: Who are you rooting for in this World Cup?
A: Sadly my team has already gone home. I was rooting for Mexico. I’m rooting for Brazil now.
For the Warrior Wednesday video on Gonzalez, visit our YouTube page at: http://youtu.be/yydXln6kzds