Former Marine takes on new role as college student and Green Terror linebacker
Shane Douglass had the words “Truly blessed” tattooed in script across the inside of his wrists. The words describe his feelings about his time traveling the world with President Barack Obama as a ceremonial guard for more than three years before the McDaniel freshman signed on to the football team this season.
“My mom always tells me you want to thank God for everything you've done,” Douglass said. “You're blessed. Who would've thought I'd be with the president and going to school?”
That future didn't seem likely in 2008, when Douglass graduated from Friendly High School in Fort Washington, Md. Family finances kept him from going to the University of Maryland and limited playing time his senior season kept him from earning a football scholarship.
His parents told him to find something to do, so he decided to join the Air Force. There was just one problem.
“The Air Force office was closed,” he said. “I walked into the Marine Corps office next to it and said, ‘Where do I sign up?’ It was a chain of events that happened to be very good.”
Douglass started boot camp on July 14, 2008, and finished about three months later. Because he wanted to be a police officer, he went to the Military Police School at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri.
While he was there, an officer began recruiting candidates to join the ceremonial guard. Douglass didn't pass the test at first but did the second time. Soon, he was assigned to help protect the president.
“That was a great experience,” Douglass said. “Being 18 or 19, I don't know how many people at that age can say they handled a weapon so close to the president. He trusts you with his life. If something happens, it's pretty much on you.”
Douglass' itinerary could be featured on the Travel Channel: Afghanistan, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Italy, Japan and Mexico, as well as nearly every state in the United States. His mother, Kanzada Douglass, began keeping track of his travels on a giant world map.
“I filled up a passport, I can tell you that,” he said.
His days consisted of 16 hours of work and would stretch for weeks at a time. He estimates he spent just two weeks at home during campaign season. To help him through the time on the road, Douglass thought about childhood trips to the zoo, his Jack Russell terrier, Buster, and sports.
One constant during this time was football. Douglass played in a military league and a semi-pro team in the Washington D.C., area. His coaches recommended he play in college, but no one recruited him.
That is, of course, until he sent Green Terror coach Mike Hoyt an email last fall.
“As I researched him more and learned about his time in the military, football ability became irrelevant,” Hoyt said. “For me, it was about what we're trying to build as a program. Having been in the Marine Corps, that's special stuff.”
Douglass, who is planning on majoring in Exercise Science and Physical Education, has switched from running back to middle linebacker, a position he hadn't played much before. He's also contributing on special teams as he adjusts to the faster pace and style. Chances are good that he will be in the starting line up Oct. 5 when the Green Terror takes on Gettysburg.
One thing is for sure, he knows how fortunate he is to be here.
“I had plenty of friends who passed away overseas,” Douglass said. “If I didn't go MP, I would've gone field-side. The field unit I would've gone to, the guy who replaced me passed away.”