And so, when St. Joe’s traveled to Orange County, California to participate in the United States Armed Forces Honor Bowl over Labor Day weekend, Doran led his Green Knights team-mates to a 17-7 opening day victory over California’s Serra Gardena.
What he did not expect was to get a lesson in leadership that would make an unforgettable impression on him and all his SJR team-mates.
On the day before the Honor Bowl game, the team traveled to Camp Pendleton, the major West Coast base of the Marine Corps in San Diego County. There, led by SJR graduate, retired United States Air Force General Ralph Jodice ’73, Doran and his team-mates were given a tour of the base and an opportunity to observe the training sessions in progress during the day. They were also invited to meet the mother of a soldier who was killed just 18 days into his tour of duty, and heard from a disabled Marine who lost both his legs to a land mine. Both of them spoke eloquently and movingly of the nature of commitment, self-sacrifice and personal responsibility that epitomizes the best of our armed forces.
“He really made a point about the importance of depending on the guy next to you,” said Doran, a senior at St. Joe’s. “In the military, on the playing field, in life, you can’t do everything by yourself, no matter how determined you may be. You have to rely on others and trust in others. The bond of friendship and brotherhood is as important to success in football as it is in life.”
"The fact they were so positive despite what had happened to them really opened my eyes,” said co-captain Louis Acceus, who was named “Player of the Game” for the school. “It was amazing to meet these wounded warriors and veterans, and hear their stories, and to know that even with the sacrifices they had to make, they would do it all again if they had to.”
The team also heard from one of the Marine Lieutenant Colonels about the importance of trust and brotherhood in any organization.
“It was really an honor and a privilege to accompany these young men on this trip,” said Lt. General (Ret.) Ralph Jodice, who was himself a member of the 1972 Green Knights football team and who addressed the team before their game. “It brought back some great memories of what it meant to play football at St. Joe’s. There are some great boys here. I can tell from even the little bit of time I was able to spend with them that they have their priorities right.”
The Honor Bowl, which took place at Mission Viejo High School over Labor Day weekend, was organized by Mark Soto to honor and benefit the sacrifices of America’s veterans and armed forces personnel. Twelve teams from both California and across the United States participated in the event.