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images-1Just weeks after leading the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos to a final four appearance in the 2014 MCLA National Tournament, All-American middie Aaron Bucka has decided to take his talents to the Marines.

Bucka learned to play lacrosse in Irvine and his love for the game flourished at Northwood High School under coach Greg Guy. Aaron worked hard and chased recruitment during his high school career and it landed him at UCSB for what the school could offer on and off the field.


Bucka playing for Northwood HS in Irvine
Bucka playing for Northwood HS in Irvine

Bucka’s interest in the military was sparked while he attended school at UCSB. He started the UCSB Semper Fi organization and assisted in coordinating activities for other interested candidates. The program in Santa Barbara grew to be the largest source of recruitment in Southern California. There so much activity, in fact, that Cpt. Carter (Aaron’s point of military contact with the program) is now moving his office to Goleta (UCSB is located in Goleta about 10 minutes north of downtown Santa Barbara). Cpt. Carter attributes much of this growth to Aaron’s leadership within the program.

With Aaron currently away completing his training, MaxLaxOC got a chance to sit down with Aaron’s parents to learn more about his decision to be a Marine and the steps left until he is an active service member.

What drew Aaron to join the Marines?

I think he has always admired people with strength, and discipline, and perhaps the sense of exploration and adventure that goes with something a bit unconventional. Also, the challenge of the life of a Marine attracts him, and he views it as a solid career start. He definitely didn’t want a regular 9-5 desk job, but I think he was most driven by his respect for the institution and the leadership qualities in people he’s encountered….he wants to be that kind of guy.

What steps did Aaron take to be recruited?

He made contact with an Officer Selection Officer (OSO – they make a clear distinction between “recruitment” and “selection” for officer candidates), and then underwent a lengthy application process similar to applying to graduate school. It involved sending transcripts, writing an essay, obtaining several letters of recommendation, etc. Also, there were a series of meetings and extremely arduous physical fitness requirements and tests starting last fall and continuing through his departure. His application was reviewed by a selection committee, and then forwarded for approval to even higher officials for final sign-off. Then his OSO, Cpt. JP Carter came up to UCSB to announce his acceptance at a lax practice in late April.

Cpt. Carter delivering news of Aaron’s (far right) acceptance

What is Aaron doing now and where is he currently?

He jammed to finish spring quarter early and then left this past Monday, June 2nd, for Officer Candidate School in Quantico, VA. There he’ll undergo a 10-week course that is filled with rigorous physical and academic demands.

What will be the rest of the steps before he is officially a Marine?

He will need to graduate from PLC this summer, then return to UCSB to complete his last few units. Once he graduates he will be commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the USMC, and will be slated for the next stage of officer training, The Basic School. Then he’s assigned an “MOS”, basically a job within the Marines, which hopefully aligns with his skills and interests.

How do you guys feel about his decision?

While there are concerns that accompany Aaron’s choice to pursue a career in the USMC, we are extremely proud of him and recognize the personal strength and conviction this path represents.

Do you think he made a good decision?

Yes, the more we learn about the type of person who succeeds along this path, the more we appreciate how well Aaron is suited for the rigors of this type of challenge. We also appreciate the solid academic and career opportunities it can present.

How do you think playing lacrosse helped him get into the Marines?

Playing lacrosse helped in many ways: being part of a team, observing how strong mentors motivate others (and also being a mentor to junior players himself), maintaining physical fitness, continually striving to improve, balancing time commitments, to name a few.

What qualities in Aaron do you think will make him a good leader in the military?

Aaron is smart, strong, serious, observant, and very determined when he sets his mind to something. He has strong opinions informed by deep-seated convictions that he often holds very close. While a man of few words, when he has something to say, it’s usually worth hearing!

A big congrats to Aaron Bucka for taking the first steps to serving our country. Orange County could not be more proud!

Bucka drives on SLC rival Arizona State during the SLC semi-final game in April

–MaxLaxOC Staff Report