CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
Two Marines with 3rd Marine Air Wing were selected as the 2012 Marine Athletes of the Year aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., Nov 12, 2013.
1st Lt. Elliot A. Joses and Capt. Shaina M. Turley, from Marine Air Group 39 were named the male and female Athlete of the Year.
Nominations went through the athletic director and chain of command at the athlete’s local installation. They were sent to Headquarters Marine Corps and the Marines who excelled were selected.
Joses, 27, from Mountain Ranch, Calif., and currently assigned with the replacement air crew at Marine Helicopter Light Attack Training Squadron 303, played rugby for the Marine Corps Rugby Team. For the past few months, he’s been focused on training in his job field rather than rugby. However, his background in the sport helps him with his day-to-day Marine life.
“Playing rugby helps me be a better Marine because it focuses on teamwork, strategy and coordination,” Joses said. “In my job, you have to do several things at once, so being able to manage that helps.”
According to the award, Joses was a member of the Gold Medal 2012 All-Marine Rugby Team. His performance throughout the Armed Forces Championship earned him a selection to the all-tournament team. Joses was invited to an Olympic development Camp to train with the men’s U.S. National Rugby Team for a month.
Joses said he was honored to receive the award but sees more importance in the sports’ recognition than his own.
“I think it’s a great testament to Marine Corps sports, particularly Marine Corps rugby,” he said. “Not a lot of people know about the sport or play it. It’s nice to know that more and more people are looking at the sport because it’s great and it really holds the ideas of the Marine Corps; strategy, physicality, teamwork.”
The Marine Corps Rugby teams’ teamwork shined last year when Joses’ team took home gold in the Armed Forces Championships. Nowadays, he doesn’t have as much time to play so his team is where he works.
“I couldn’t do any of it without the support of my unit,” Joses said, “I would love to play, but my first job is doing my job here in the Corps; flying, making sure I’m good to go with that, and I’m the best pilot I can be. HMLAT 303 is my team right now and that’s the team I’m working for.”
Coincidentally, the female Athlete of the Year is also a rugby player.
Turley, 29, from Fox Lake Ill., currently assigned as a CH-46E pilot for Marine Medium Helicopter Training Squadron 164, has been playing sports for many years.
“I started playing volleyball, basketball and soccer all through high school,” Turley said. “After not playing sports in college for the first two years, I studied abroad in Ireland and ran into the sport of rugby.”
Turley said she joined the Marine Corps to be a part of an elite warrior class. Rugby also fuels that drive to be something great.
“I love competition,” she said. “ I love working with my teammates in order to achieve something greater than ourselves and becoming something better than you ever thought you could be in the presence of other people.”
The Marine Corps support doesn’t stop at her nomination for Athlete of the Year. Turley said one of her most memorable moments in rugby involves her squadron at a local match against France.
“My squadron, HMMT-164, showed up in charlies to support the team,” Turley said. “Watching the Marines salute during the national anthem while standing side-by-side with my teammates really just filled the air with something special. I couldn’t wait to get out there and give France a fight.”
Turley has been invited to train full time with the women’s U.S. National Rugby Team. She has traveled to six international competitions in support of the team and is a 2016 Olympic hopeful.