NASHVILLE, Tenn. (NNS) -- The Parthenon towered before the eyes of the Sailor. He was on liberty after sailing with his squadron aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). Now looking back, he calls it one of the best moments in his naval career.
Indeed, the Navy took Petty Officer 1st Class Trevor Hoagland far from his hometown of Virginia Beach, Va., to places he never thought he would go. Then as a Navy recruiter, he was taken to places and communities he never knew existed.
Just a few years had passed since he had seen the famed wonder of Greek architecture when he found himself traveling an hour south from his recruiting station in Bowling Green, Ky., to Nashville. There it was again - the Parthenon - as if it had never experienced the ravages of war and time like its Greek counterpart. He didn't know until a friend told him that a fully recreated Parthenon has existed in the Music City for more than 100 years.
For Hoagland, it was like looking back in time and there was little chance he would have seen either structure without the Navy. Yet this wasn't the first time a friend had introduced him to something he never knew existed. A few years earlier when he was still with the "Tomcatters" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 31, a friend asked him to try out a new sport. He reluctantly agreed and found himself holding a long ash wood stick that curves at the end to form a paddle-like surface with which to strike a ball, similar in size to a baseball.
The sport was hurling. Just like the Parthenon in Nashville, he never knew it existed, despite the fact that it had been played in Ireland for nearly a 1,000 years before the first Parthenon was even built. He learned that the stick he held was called a hurley and the ball a sliotar. His friend convinced him to play a season with the local club in Hampton Roads and soon he was hooked. So when he got orders to Navy Recruiting District Nashville, one of his first searches on the internet was for a hurling club.
Near his station in Bowling Green, there were no clubs. And despite some effort, he couldn't manage to convince the locals like his friend had once convinced him. Perhaps it was the fact that it has been described as the fastest field sport in the world or that the sliotar can reach speeds in excess of 100 mph as it flies toward the goal.
"It wasn't really catching on fast enough for me, so I decided to bite the bullet and drive to Nashville," Hoagland said.
Surprising as it may seem, Nashville had a club which played the ancient Irish sport. Its members were just as surprised that the Navy was nearby.
"Where are the ships around here?" Hoagland recalled one of the questions he first heard. But he felt welcomed and got back into the game. After helping his team take the championship that season, he was asked to lead a team in the fall. He was asked to be a captain.
For Hoagland, it was a great way to use the skills he has gained in the Navy to impact his newly found community. At first glance, the two worlds shared little in common. In one, he was working through applications in a typical office tucked into a strip mall decorated in Navy blue and gold with a few cream colored desks. At the other, he was yelling commands on a reworked soccer field to direct a team of eight other players. But he found similarity in how the Navy and his team could overcome any difficulty.
"We had one goalie on the team and he couldn't make it out. I was a little worried about what we were going to do. But then in the days leading up to the game, I identified the person I thought could fill that role. We put him back there in goal and he did outstanding. He surprised everyone, including himself. And I think that happens in the Navy. You give someone a little responsibility and that Sailor will run with it and do well. People rise to the challenge when you believe in them," he said.
Hoagland helped others rise even as he excelled himself. He recently led his team to the championship game and in the recruiting world he helped his station earn the honor of Best Station in the Nation for NRD Nashville. On a personal level, he just received news that he earned a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement medal for his success in recruiting particularly hard to find candidates.
It is these accomplishments that confirm what he knew from a young age. He wanted to wear a uniform just like his father who was a special warfare combatant-craft crewman.
"I knew growing up that I wanted to join the Navy," Hoagland said.
Now he wears two uniforms, one to the office and one to field. Either way, the person inside determines what that material means. For the new recruits he is guiding, he knows it may mean a future meeting.
"The best part of this job is me knowing that one day I may run into these Sailors again because I know the people we are putting in the Navy are some of the best and they will rise to the occasion," he said.
Navy Recruiting District Nashville is responsible for recruiting efforts throughout more than 100,000 square miles of the states of Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Kentucky and Virginia.
For more information on NRD Nashville, visit us at http://www.cnrc.navy.mil/nashville/ or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/NRD.Nashville
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For more news from Navy Recruiting District Nashville, visit http://www.navy.mil/local/nrdnashville/.