Sports Union November 2016 - Page 39

NOVEMBER 2016 | SportsUnion From Page 37 Tianna Hatch (Endicott/Elmira Free Academy) – Women’s Soccer
 
 When Tianna Hatch scored in the 99th percentile on the Armed Forces Vocational Battery (ASVAB) during her senior year of high school, military recruiters started lining up to see her at Elmira Free Academy.
 
 At the same time, college soccer coaches were also calling, and Hatch knew she wanted to find a way to use all of her talents.
 
After consultation with her uncle, a recently retired command sergeant major, Hatch decided to follow in his footsteps, and determined the Army National Guard 31 Bravo military police was the proper fit. She enlisted on February 20, 2014, and was off to basic training for eight weeks in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.
 “I was able to graduate early and had to miss my formal high school graduation for basic training,” Hatch said. “It was tough not being able to walk with my friends, but the school held a special small ceremony for me, so it was nice.”
 
 Her next major decision was to figure out the best college fit for her to be able to balance her military commitments with schooling, knowing that she also still wanted to play soccer as well.
 
 “I could not imagine being done playing competitive soccer,” Hatch said. “I love the feeling I get playing. It’s actually very similar to the feeling I get serving in the military with the comradery and idea of working together under a common symbol.”
 
 Hatch found Buffalo State to be the best place for her. The women’s soccer program was on the ascent toward the top of the SUNYAC, and its location has allowed her to serve the military with an uncommon simultane- ous contract. Hatch fulfills her National Guard commitment with one weekend per month of training at the Masten Avenue Armory, but is also a member of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC), cross-registered through Canisius College where she takes daily classes in mock leadership and field training.
 
 On the soccer field, Hatch helped lead Buffalo State to its best season in school history with an overall record of 15-4-1 as it made its second-ever appearance in the SUNYAC Championship game. Hatch tied for second on the team with seven goals in 18 games, while having to miss the final weekend of the regular season because of her commitments to the Army.
 
Hatch has also been excelling in the classroom, on pace to graduate a year early with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and plans to remain at Buffalo State in pursuit of her master’s. She is currently in the second of a six-year active c ommitment in the National Guard, followed by two years in the reserve draft, but has aspirations to reenlist as well as pursue a career in CIA foreign affairs.
 “It is a challenge to juggle everything, but I also think it has been a realistic plan,” Hatch said. “I feel all of these experiences are just better preparing me for the world.”
 
 Chrissy Rennard (Brockport/ Brockport) – Softball
 
Chrissy Rennard enlisted in the United States Army Reserves in March of her senior year of high school, and two weeks after receiving her diploma from Brockport High School in June 2011, she was off to Fort Sill, Oklahoma for basic training.
 “The military was always something that interested me,” said Rennard. “My grandfather, my brother and sister and my uncles had all served and it was something that seemed right for me.”
 
 After basic training, Rennard continued with a six-month advanced training program to become an Army medic. 
 
After a year committed fully to Army training, Rennard began her collegiate career studying and playing softball at Monroe Community College in the Fall of 2012. After one year with the Tribunes, she transferred to Buffalo State where in two seasons the outfielder has posted a .273 batting average with six doubles, a home run and 20 RBIs.
 
In addition to balancing a busy schedule of college life and athletics, Rennard continues to serve her country, committing one weekend per month with the 865th Combat Support Hospital that drills out of the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Base. During this past summer, she also enrolled in a three-week Warrior Leadership Course in Fort Dix, New Jersey in an attempt to position herself for a promotion.
 “Coach (Marie) Curran has been great allowing me the flexibility to fulfill my responsibilities with the Army while still having the opportunity to play softball,” Rennard said.
 
 Rennard’s commitment to the Army will expire in March, 2017 and she is slated to complete her bachelor’s degree in health and wellness, but she is keeping her options open for what’s next.
 
 “After graduation I want to be able to travel and possibly teach English in a foreign country,” Rennard said. “Long term, I want to go to graduate school to pursue a career in the health field to do something with children, but reenlisting in the Army is still an option.”
 
 Felipe Yanez (Corona/Forest Hills) – Cross Country/Track & Field
 
When Felipe Yanez was born in Chile in 1994, it was more than a long shot that he would find his way to the United States Army 20 years later.
 
 When Yanez was 8 years old, his father, a second generation Chilean Marine, moved to the United States for employment in Corona, N.Y. Seven years later in 2009, while visiting, Felipe accepted an invitation to stay and live with his father and attend high school in the United States.
 After graduating from Forest Hills High School in 2013, Yanez was driven to pursue a career in 39 the medical field. He enrolled at Buffalo State the ensuing fall as a dual major in biology and psychology with a minor in chemistry, and during his freshman year made an immediate impact on campus. He performed well in the classroom, and was a standout in cross country and track. During his rookie indoor track campaign, Yanez captured the SUNYAC Championship in the 800-meter run and ran a leg of the winning distance medley relay that clinched Buffalo State’s second-ever men’s SUNYAC indoor team championship.
 
Following an extremely productive freshman year, however, Yanez believed he was capable of more and chose to follow in his family lineage of military service and enlist in the United States Army Reserves. After basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, Yanez hoped to pursue advanced training in nursing, but learned he was color blind which precluded him from entering the program. Instead he chose to become a mechanic and completed advanced training at Fort Lee, Virginia, missing the Fall 2014 semester.
 
“I guess you could say instead of fixing people, I chose to fix cars,” Yanez said. “I’m like a nurse of the wheels.”
 
 Yanez returned to Buffalo State last spring, but did not compete in track and field as he did not feel prepared for the commitment of the season after the time away.
 
Now, Yanez has mastered his schedule, balancing a dual major, plus his monthly commitment with the Army at the Niagara Falls Airforce Base, and has returned to competing with the Bengals’ cross country and track and field teams with his eyes set firmly on another goal.
 “I want to break 1:50 in the 800 and qualify for the Chilean Sub-23 National Team,” Yanez said.
 
Following graduation in Fall 2018, Yanez plans to attend medical school to study neuroscience. He also aspires to commission as a captain and serve additional time in the Army following his current six-year commitment.
 
“The Army has given me goals,” Yanez said. “I am more responsible and am a better leader. I have been able to extrapolate from the Seven Army Values and apply them in my everyday life.”