THOMASVILE, Ga. (WTXL) — For the last three years, Thomas University has been designated a Top 10 Military Friendly institution.
Their newly announced football program will help veterans transition from military to civilian life, all while earning a degree and playing football. Orlando Mitjans Jr. is the Night Hawks first head coach, and he told us this was an opportunity he couldn't say no to.
"Being military men, they've been conditioned to win," he said of the athletes he plans to recruit. "That's what we do here in America. We win."
Coach O was announced as the program's first head coach earlier this week. The team will play for the first time in the fall of 2023, except the Night Hawks won't be your traditional football team.
"One big part of our center for military life was to ensure that the transition piece through academics and training programs," said Stephen Ferguson, who is the Vice President of Military and Corporate Relations at Thomas University. "What better way to expand on the transition than to offer football?"
Thomas University's team will serve veterans in their transition from military to civilian life, all while they earn a degree.
"They did what they had to do for us, now it's time for us to give back to them and allow them to reach some of the dreams they might have had," said Mitjans.
"They're coming to us for their degree programs or for certification training," added Ferguson. "I guess there was a thirst for football in the area, so we figured we could marry the two and come up with a great transition vehicle for service members to play a sport."
To play, and as Coach O says, to win a championship.
"I'm here to develop young men in this game, help them have a great experience, but at the same time, we want to win."
No one will argue with that. The team will consist of veterans and those currently serving in the reserves and national guard. High school students in an ROTC program will also be able to play.