Marine Athlete Of The Year On Okinawa
Traces Success To Family, Friends
(July 30, 2009)
CAMP FOSTER, OKINAWA, Japan (July 24, 2009) - Lance Cpl. Ryan J. Mclellan, left, a maintenance management specialist with Headquarters and Services Company, Marine Wing Communication Squadron 18, Marine Aircraft Group 18, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, was selected as the 2008 Marine Corps Athlete of the year for his performance. He is slated to receive his award in August.
| ||CAMP FOSTER, OKINAWA, Japan (7/24/2009) — At 5'10" and 155 pounds, it is anyone's guess what Lance Cpl. Ryan J. Mclellan's hobby is.|
But none, not even his co-workers, would guess he is the 2008 Marine Corps Athlete of the Year, especially considering the sport this average-height Marine plays is basketball.
Marine Corps Community Services Semper Fit nominates outstanding athletes at their installations to be considered for the honor. Corey L. Carter, a sports specialist with Camp Foster Semper Fit, nominated Mclellan for the award.
Mclellan is a maintenance management specialist with Headquarters and Services Company, Marine Wing Communication Squadron 18, Marine Aircraft Group 18, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing. Even though his physical attributes may surprise many, he is the Corps' best.
|Even more surprising than his appearance is that he didn't become the best through a fanatical love of the game.|
"Basketball has always just been something I do to keep myself entertained," Mclellan said humbly, explaining he doesn't classify himself as a great athlete.
Mclellan said he's loved the sport for as long as he can remember, although at a young age he didn't take it very seriously. He played to have something to do and because it kept him close to family and friends.
His competitive playing days started when he was in 3rd grade on a team with his brother. His stepdad, Jason Tardy, coached the boys' team.
"I remember my stepdad always told me to just out think 'em," said Mclellan, who is from Newport, Maine.
Mclellan played sports throughout his school years, but became truly serious about it during his latter years in high school, which boosted his drive for the game.
While playing at Nokomis Regional High School in his hometown, his coach noticed his potential and continued to encourage him, even today, which Mclellan said is the reason why he took basketball more seriously.
"(My coach) made me realize your improvement and skill depend on how hard you work," Mclellan recalled.
He also said his family made the effort when he was younger to attend his games, especially after his coach told them he had high potential.
Mclellan remembers his uncle, Dean Robert, who never played sports in high school, but followed his team throughout their tournaments and eventually became their coach. He was undefeated as a coach.
Mclellan said he planned to join the Army with his brother Corey Rodrigue, but got caught up with working construction, so he decided the military wasn't for him. He still continued to play basketball in leagues during his off time but eventually realized he wanted to do something else.
After awhile, Mclellan formed an interest in enlisting in the Marine Corps. "I decided to give it another shot," he admitted. "I was in boot camp two weeks later."
After recruit training and military occupational specialty school, he arrived at his duty station here on Okinawa, where he serves as a maintenance management specialist. He immediately started playing basketball at Gunners Fitness Center, playing several times a week during lunch and after work.
Eventually he participated in tournaments across Okinawa, but didn't join the 1st MAW team until he met Staff Sgt. Floyd Spears, one of his former staff non-commissioned officers.
"When I started playing in the tournaments, I started to see how serious sports are in the Marine Corps," he said as he recalled his first interactions with Marine Corps sports. "He (Spears) helped me get into All-Marine Basketball Camp," he added.
McLellan's team won gold during last year's Conseil International du Sport Militaire in Texas, an annual event which consists of military teams from around the world.
During the All-Marine Basketball Camp, the team traveled around competing in games against other military teams in Atlanta and Washington D.C.
The All-Marine Team finished third in the All-Armed Forces Tournament in Pennsylvania where Mclellan was selected to the All-Armed Forces Team.
Playing for the All-Armed Forces Team, Mclellan competed in the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe Basketball Tournament in Germany.
"The competition out there was impressive," Mclellan admitted.
Even after all of his accomplishments to this date, Mclellan cited the most memorable moment of his life as the day he scored his 1,000th point in high school off an assist from his brother.
"That was pretty cool," he said with a laugh.
Article and photo by USMC LCpl. Jeffrey Cordero
Marine Corps Bases Japan
Reprinted from Marine Corps News
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