Ohio University

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Published: April 17, 2019 Author: Tony Meale

Tim Blodgett, who is pursuing an online master’s degree in Soccer Coaching Education from The Patton College of Education, became the first Ohio University student approved for the Yellow Ribbon Program, an educational enhancement program that provides scholarship assistance to U.S. veterans.

“I’m very grateful,” said Blodgett. “The transition from the military to civilian life isn’t always the easiest. After 12 years in the Marine Corps, the coaching program that OU offers is my passion and my next mission in life. I’m thankful for this support.”

Ohio University entered an agreement with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program, which funds tuition expenses that exceed any tuition and fee amounts currently payable under the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

The Brigadier General James M. Abraham & Colonel Arlene F. Greenfield Veterans and Military Student Services Center reviews all Yellow Ribbon applicants. Greenfield, a 1971 graduate of The Patton College, was a member of the Dean’s Circle of Engagement (DCE) and a strong proponent of veterans. She passed away in 2014 at the age of 64.

“Arlene would have been proud that The Patton College has the first Yellow Ribbon recipient,” said Dean Renée A. Middleton. “She dedicated her life to service and scholarship and helped countless students along the way.”

That includes Blodgett, who, like Greenfield, sacrificed for his country. An avid soccer player, he intended to play for the University of Rhode Island. Then 9-11 happened.

“I changed my mission statement and instead of going to play soccer at Rhode Island, I enrolled in the Marine Corps,” he said. “I felt a calling for that.”

Blodgett served four tours: three in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. During his last deployment, he was struck by a roadside bomb, broke his back, and suffered a brain injury.

“I wasn’t able to do my job anymore,” he said.

Blodgett, who received a bachelor’s in Computer Science from East Carolina University in 2012, lives in Sanford, N.C., where he owns and runs San Lee Soccer Academy, an indoor facility for youth and adults. He is also Director of Coaching at Sanford Area Soccer League and the general manager of San Lee Futbol Club, which plays in the United Premier Soccer League (UPSL).

“It’s definitely a full-time gig,” said Blodgett of his various roles. “I felt a calling to help out the community as much as I can by utilizing soccer as a tool. My personal mission statement is inspiring others to reach their full potential. I think God has called me to start this soccer program and influence kids here in the community. We don’t have a high post-secondary education rate. We have a low median household income. This is something to try to help kids in the community.”

There are roughly 700 children in the academy program, ranging in age from 2 to 18. Blodgett hopes to be a positive influence in their lives, which is something he learned as a Marine.

“When people think of the military, the first thing that comes to mind is deployment and combat and Iraq and Afghanistan, but there’s a lot of really good things that happen in the military,” he said. “It’s not all combat operations. We help and support the locals. The military does a lot of good things – not only oversees, but for local communities as well.”

After Blodgett left the Marines, The Patton College was a natural fit – not only because of its online program, but also for its commitment to veterans. In January 2018, OHIO was named the eighth most military-friendly school in the country by Victory Media, a veteran-owned company and publisher of G.I. Jobs magazine.

“Ohio University is a campus community that enables veterans to enjoy and grow from their college experiences,” said David Edwards, director of the Veterans and Military Student Services Center at Ohio University. “Our participation in the Yellow Ribbon Program is an added way that we can inform OHIO’s current and future student veterans, and the parents of those students, that they will be taken care of and provided as smooth a transition as possible into college life.”

Blodgett, who lives in Sanford with his wife, Jennifer, and their two children, has enjoyed learning from Dr. David Carr and other professors in the Recreation and Sport Pedagogy program. He appreciates the support that he has received both as a student and as a veteran.

“I’m grateful – very grateful – for this,” said Blodgett. “Dr. Carr, the program that he’s running, I think he’s doing a really good job, and I’m just grateful to be a part of it.”