MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
Since the age of seven, Sgt. Kristopher Golden has rooted for the Seattle Mariners. For nearly 10 years, the 27-year-old from Lacey, Wash., brings the same passion and dedication he has for his team, to his job as a radio chief for the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
In this interview he tells us how being a Mariners fan has helped him enjoy the highlights of his career and push through the tough times.
Q: What was it like growing up in Lacey?
A: It was great. Lacey is a nice quiet community. I went to Timberland High School, where I played sports. It’s a great place to grow up.
Q: How did you decide you wanted to enlist in the Marine Corps?
A: One day a recruiter just called my house. I have no idea how they got my number, but they called my house and he told me some pretty interesting things and said we should meet up. The next afternoon, I went to the recruiter’s office and he convinced me to be a Marine. I was a senior in high school with two months until graduation. I really didn’t have any plans. I didn’t want to go to college. My dad wanted me to join the Air Force, but the Marine Corps recruiter called me and said why not be one of the best of the best, and I thought why not. I told my parents, but my dad still wanted me to meet the Air Force recruiter. I went and saw him for five minutes, but it wasn’t for me.
Q: What made you want to go into the communication field?
A: I came in open contract. Everyone told me I was going to be a grunt, and to me that sounded pretty cool. After I graduated boot camp, I found out I was going to be a field radio operator. I had seen one war movie with Mel Gibson that had a radio operator and I said, “Oh that’s what I’m going to be? That looks legit.”
Q: You’ve been doing this for nearly 10 years. What do you enjoy the most about it?
A: I love everything about being a radio operator. All the Marines I’ve met have all been great guys. I just love communications in general. I’ve gotten a chance to go almost everywhere. If I get the chance to stay in I’d like to become a master sergeant so I can stay in communications and become a communications chief.
Q: How hard is your job?
A: Being a radio chief is pretty strenuous. Your higher-ups expect greatness out of you; expect you to do different things that haven’t been done and make it happen.
Q: When did you become a Mariners fan?
A: When I went to my first game at the Kingdome. We played the White Sox. I was probably seven or eight years-old, but I still remember. My brother was a White Sox fan for some reason. I don’t know if he just liked Frank Thomas or what. I remember Ken Griffey hit a homerun and Frank Thomas hit a homerun. It was a great game for my brother and me, obviously for me, because I love Griffey. The Mariners ended up winning a pretty close game. I was just ecstatic. The Kingdome and Griffey hit a homerun; what kid wouldn’t want that if he’s from Washington?
Q: What was it like for you walking in to the Kingdome to see the Mariners for the first time?
A: It was a lot bigger than I thought it would be. I was playing junior baseball and I was just blown away.
Q: The dedication you have to the team, do you bring that to the Corps?
A: Yeah. I’m definitely dedicated to the Marine Corps and my Marines. I always try to show them dedication and motivation. I always try to stay positive, stay smiling and in a good mood. When work has to be done, it has to be done and we do it. My dedication is as hard with the Corps as it is with the Mariners. I’m a die-hard Marine. I’ve done things with the Marine Corps that I wouldn’t have done if I was a civilian. I owe [the Marine Corps] all the dedication I have.
Q: What’s the best memory you have as a Mariners fan?</b>
A: In 1995, when the Mariners went to the playoffs. They had Griffey, Edger Martinez and I think [Alex Rodriguez] was with them. I think Edgar Martinez hit a double and scored the winning run. I remember the next morning getting the paper and I cut out the picture of all of them dog-piling on the home plate.
Q: What’s it like to be a fan of the Mariners?
A: Lately it’s been a little rough, but I’m always going to be a Mariners fan through thick and thin. We’ve had great players; Griffey, A-Rod, Randy Johnson, Jake Buhner and Ichiro; but lately it’s been hard because we’ve been struggling, but my hopes are high.
Q: Despite the hard times, you’ve stuck with your team. Why?
A: You have to. It’s the Mariners. I’m from Washington. We’re sports fans there. We love the Seahawks, we love the Mariners, and we loved the Seattle Super Sonics. I’m not going to jump on the Yankees’ bandwagon or the Oakland A’s or anything like that.
Q: You represent your team everywhere you go. Do you ever catch any heat from other baseball fans?
A: Not really. For the most part they’re loyal to their teams down here in California and they just disregard the team, even if the Dodgers are buying their team through free agents. People usually just ask about the players I like, and I tell them. I’ve been asked recently about my thoughts on Robinson Cano and I tell them I’m excited. It’s our first great hitter since Ichiro. I’m excited for him to do big things.
Q: How is this year different than other years for the Mariners?
A: This year we got Robinson Cano. He’s a big-time player. Hopefully he’ll start lighting up our offense and get Felix Hernandez a winning season.
Q: Who would you say your favorite player is?
A: Felix Hernandez. He’s been with the Mariners for a while and hopefully it stays that way. He seems to want to win in Seattle. Hitting wise though, Dustin Ackley and Justin Smoak.
Q: What do you feel when you’re watching a game in your baracks room?
A: Nervous. Every at-bat I’m just saying, “Come on just get a base hit.” Our offense has been struggling so it’s nerve-racking at times.
Q: What separates the Mariners from other ball clubs?
A: We have loyal fans with great tradition in Seattle.
Q: What separates Mariners’ fans from other ball club’s fans?
A: The Mariners don’t buy teams like Boston. We’re always there. Through losing seasons, we’re still there. The stadium is always at least half full. Even if we’re 20 games below 500, we’ll be out there.
Q: You play on the MEU’s softball team. Every time you go up to bat, what do your teammates yell at you?
A: They yell, “Do it for Washington” or “Let me see a Smoak Bomb.” But every time I’m at the plate and I hear them say let me see a Smoak Bomb, I just think Justin Smoak. Yeah why not, let me try and do a Smoak Bomb or maybe they’ll call it a Golden Bomb.
Q: Have you passed on the tradition of being a Mariners fan to your children?
A: Yes. My son’s already a Mariners fan. My girl is two years old and she’s getting into it. My son’s seven, but I took him to his first Mariners game when he was four or five. We still had Ichiro and he really wanted an Ichiro shirt, so I got him an Ichiro shirt. We actually sat in the right-field bleachers. Ichiro’s right there, so the whole game he was like, “Go Ichiro!” and every time the ball was hit there he’d yell, “Come on Ichiro, come on Ichiro,” so it was pretty exciting for him. He’s four or five years-old, seeing Safeco Field for the first time. It’s a great memory.
Q: What’s separates you from other fans?
A: I’m a die-hard fan. I like to think I’m the number one Mariners fan. I don’t have the most gear, but it’s hard to buy gear hear in California. I try to catch every game. If I can’t I have it pulled up on my phone or if I have a softball game, I rush home to watch it. On the way I’ll have my friend pull it up and give me the feedback like, “Hey it’s a 2-2 count with a man on and two outs.” I’m always interested. Even if we’re losing, even if we’re winning, it doesn’t matter, it’s the Mariners. I’m invested in this team. I want Felix Hernandez to get a win. I want him to go to the playoffs. He hasn’t been to the playoffs yet, and he needs to.
For the Warrior Wednesday video on Golden, visit our YouTube page at: http://youtu.be/7Oz1aDgRkGs