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A Service Call

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Courtesy of the Los Angeles Daily News

Corey Mazza wants you to understand something, and he wants to make it clear and he wants to leave no doubt:

He is nothing special.

If he could tell it to each of you, break down his decision to forgo a professional football career, forget a burgeoning modeling and acting career, ignore a budding financial career after a Harvard education, he would.

He would love to pull you aside and explain why his decision to abandon the dozens of opportunities at his fingertips to enlist in the U.S. Marines is nothing extraordinary.

"I definitely don't feel any more special than anyone else," said Mazza, a former Thousand Oaks High standout, a few days before boarding a plane to Marine Corps officer candidate school in Quantico, Va. "I love the anonymity of the service. There's no name on the back of your jersey. The guys are there to go about their jobs, and they do it with honor and pride. It's not a punch line."

With every sentence, every word, Mazza reiterates he is no different from the kid who enlists at 18.

But he is.

Most Marine enlistments have not led the life he has led, with the prospects he has. That does not make him any better, he'll make sure you know, but it certainly does separate him from the pack.

The modeling and acting is one thing, a fluke that he never put much time or care into. But Mazza spent five years at wide receiver for Harvard, tying the career touchdown reception record and leading the Crimson to two Ivy League championships. He followed his college career with a brief foray into professional football, playing in Italy for the Parma Panthers last summer.

And there are the financial opportunities that typically follow a Harvard education.

Mazza, essentially, is giving all that up. In reality, the 23-year-old said he is giving up nothing.

"I feel like I'd be giving something up if I didn't do this," he said. "Coming out of school, there's a lot of pressure to go out and get the big-money first job. One thing I did listen to a lot of people tell me is, `Do what you love, do what you love, do what you love."'

For the complete story about Mazza, head to the Los Angeles Daily News.

- A.S.