L'Hoste called into U.S. Army active reserve duty

Friday, August 25, 2017
by Wes Bloomquist || wbloomquist@uttyler.edu

TYLER – On Thursday morning Jessica L’Hoste was practicing with her UT Tyler teammates on the sixth day of preseason soccer practice. After receiving a phone call and quickly packing some bags, L’Hoste was driving south that afternoon to join her other team – the 136th Military Police Battalion which has been called to help as Hurricane Harvey approaches the Texas coastline.

A senior defender from Austin, L’Hoste enlisted in the Army Reserves two years ago on August 30 which is also her birthday. During that time, she has been training at the Tyler Armed Forces Reserve Center along with pursing a Kinesiology degree from UT Tyler and playing for the Patriots. This is her first time to be called into action and she is currently in Central Texas as the storm approaches with meteorologist predicting landfall as a major hurricane early Saturday morning along the Texas Gulf Coast. L’Hoste said her jobs on Friday has been delivering vehicles around the area as the storm approaches and that her unit is ready to respond once they are needed along the coast.

“We are headed to Round Rock to stage vehicles and help with any support they need to other units who have already been stood up,” said L’Hoste on Friday afternoon. “Once the storm comes in we will most likely split up and dispatch as the storm comes in. It is my first time and I'm looking forward to helping out a bigger cause and hoping everything goes as planned so everyone can get home.”

For the previous six days, L’Hoste has been training relentlessly with her UT Tyler teammates for the upcoming season. One of six seniors, L’Hoste and the Patriots are scheduled to begin school on Monday and open the 2017 season on Friday, Sept. 1 against Rhodes College here in Tyler. School and soccer are not the priority right now though as L’Hoste puts helping others ahead of herself.

“It’s humbling for our team right now,” UT Tyler head coach Stefani Webb said. “There are some of them that have been stressed out about a hard practice or when we are going to eat. Now Jessica is going to a hurricane to help in any way she can. That is humbling for our worries. For us to have a leader on our team that is doing what she is doing for others is incredible. I’m very proud to have a member of our family who is invested and committed in helping others.”

A two-time Academic All-Conference selection, L’Hoste said that missions like the one she’s on now are tough because it could be two days or two weeks before they are able to return home. She knows that her team is supporting her and understands, but she is also conflicted knowing that she will miss multiple preseason practices and possibly the season openers.

“I’m very sad about leaving abruptly in the middle of my senior preseason but we should be home soon,” L’Hoste said. “I’m incredibly lucky to be a part of a program like this and already ready to be back and playing with them. There's a lot of talent and heart on this team and ready to work hard with my family this season.”

For Webb and the Patriots, missing a couple of practices or games isn’t what is important right now. The team is proud of their senior defender for having a servant’s heart and being an example of courage and selflessness that they can all look up to.

“Her heart is in serving,” Webb said. “Serving her country. Serving her community. It is a big part of her identity. I can really tell her life has changed for the better since she joined the Reserves. She walks with a purpose every day and is always positive. You can see it right away. She is structured and goal oriented in everything she does. We’ll just continue to pray for her safety and support her in any way that we can. She knows we lover her and are proud of her and her family is waiting for her when she gets back.”