CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
For more than 15 years Petty Officer 2nd Class Gabriel Cisneros, religious program specialist, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, has been cracking bats and making plays on the softball field.
During the day he provides Marines and sailors with spiritual guidance and religious information.
In his off time though, you can find him on the field working with others on the fundamentals of a game that he’s come to love. In this interview, the 36 year-old sailor from Diamond Bar, Calif., tells us how he applies his job on the field and what softball means to him.
Q: As a religious program specialist, what does your job entail?
A: We help the needs of the Marines and sailors with the unit in regards to spirituality, religion and religious practices. We are also there for any Marines and sailors that may need counseling or just someone to talk to.
Q: What kind of satisfaction do you get from helping fellow service members?
A: I get a great satisfaction out of providing a Marine or a sailor that comfort that they need regardless of religion or spiritual beliefs. This allows them to be focused on their mission and be successful.
Q: What does softball mean to you?
A: Softball is like a religion for me. It’s my relief, somewhere I can come and worship. I love the game. It’s something I grew up doing and it puts me in the right perspective when I need it.
Q: How does your job help you in softball and vice versa?
A: Being able to help and talk to people. People that I play with know what I do and I’ll have people come up to me and tell me they have a Marine that needs this and I can point them in the right direction.
Q: What feeling do you get when you step up to the plate and knock it out of the park?
A: The feeling you get is like a goose-bump feeling. When you really get a hold of a ball or you make a play, you feel like you belong to something. It’s almost indescribable.
Q: How did you get into softball?
A: I played baseball growing up and when I got out of college I got into intramural softball. I got really into it. I started playing with bigger teams in tournaments. Pretty soon I was addicted.
Q: What do you love about the game the most?
A: The people. I’ve met a lot of people through softball. They’re a great group of guys and I’ve made a lot of memories playing the sport.
Q: In your 15 years of playing softball, what has been your greatest accomplishment?
A: Making the All-Navy Team. It took a lot to make the team. The first time I tried out I didn’t make the cut. So I had a whole year where I redesigned my game. It was a lot of work and when I got the word that I had made the team it was just a rush of emotions.
Q: How much longer do you plan on playing?
A: Well my wife says I have two more years. I’d say she’s right. I have kids that are getting to the age where they’re starting to play sports, so my focus will switch to supporting them.
Q: What’s one thing you want to accomplish before you bow out?
A: Win a championship with the All-Navy Team. We came close last year, but fell short. I believe we have what it takes to make it this year.
For the Warrior Wednesday video on Cisneros, visit our YouTube page at http://youtu.be/FfZawSQecHo