Exchanging running shoes for combat bootsBy Bruce Whetten
The Daily Dispatch
Local running phenom Kenny Cormier is trading in his running shoes for a pair of combat boots.
The 2004 Footlocker National Champion, who for the last two-years has been running on a full-ride athletic scholarship at the University of Arkansas, has surrendered his scholarship in order to fulfill a childhood dream of being a United States Marine.
Cormier, 22, departs Monday for San Diego, CA. where he will undergo 13-weeks of basic training followed by eight weeks of prep school as a member of the U.S. Marine Corps.
As a freshman at Arkansas Cormier landed All-American honors and “had a blast” he said.
“I enjoyed every minute of it,” he added. “I had a chance to meet a lot of really neat people and run at a very competitive level.”
Looking back Cormier says he has no regrets about going to Arkansas and considers it a fun place to be and a good experience for him
In August of his sophomore year Cormier contracted Mononucleosis but it wasn’t actually diagnosed until five months later.
“It took such a real toll on my body that I had to take some time off,” he said. “Just as I was starting to come back I noticed my body took a lot longer to respond to things. I was still weaker than I had been and running became more challenging for me.”
During this time Cormier realized that running, which he had been doing because he enjoyed it, was now becoming more like a job and his desire to keep running was disappearing.
“To be a really good runner it’s something you have to eat, sleep and breathe,” he said. “I can honestly say I don’t have that anymore.”
Cormier left Arkansas in December and came home to rest for a while thinking about his future but deep down he knew what he really wanted to do - he just wasn’t sure how his family would take it.
One night he sat down with his parents and expressed his desire to join the United States Marines.
“It was a real shock to them because I’ve never really talked to them about it,” he said. “This is something I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve always wanted to serve my country. Considering everything that has happened to me I feel very lucky this door opened up.”
Kenny’s mom, Jenny admits both she and her husband were stunned by what their oldest son revealed when he said he wanted to join the Marines.
“I guess I should have known because when Kenny was little he liked to wear army fatigues and make guns out of sticks,” she said. “Dressed up this way he would guard our backyard.”
So why the shock?
“Both Ken and I were shocked and, of course, scared by Kenny's decision to join the Marines,” she said. “Yet, we are extremely proud of him and his desire to serve and protect our country. Although this may not have been our first choice for Kenny, we, his family, support his decision and will be praying for his growth and safety throughout this endeavor.”
The Douglas native has passed his military physicals and is on his way to becoming a full-time soldier for the next four years.
“I’m ready for the challenge,” he said. “I’m going after another dream of mine. This is something I’m really looking forward to.”
While in the Marines Cormier says he will be doing reconnaissance work.
“I’m not 100 percent sure what I’ll be doing but it will be something along those lines,” he said. “I realize that I could be in Iraq real soon and if my country needs me it’s something I’ll be proud to do.”
Cormier still plans on finishing his college education he’s just not sure if it will be while he’s in the military or when he gets out.
“It’s going to be challenging I realize that,” he said. “But I’m really looking forward to it.”