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Ex-Tiger Lliso is Armys place kicker
Former Bradwell Tiger soccer and football player, Joey Lliso is realizing his dream of attending West Point and being the place kicker for the U.S. Army football team. - photo by Photo provided.
As if being a top rated soccer player, place kicker and member of the JROTC for the Bradwell Institute Tigers was not impressive, Joey Lliso set the bar one level higher when he was taken as a walk-on place kicker for the U. S. Army football team at West Point Military Academy.
"When I took him up to New York on June 30, we went to Michie Stadium and I asked him what about if one day you were kicking for the Army team and he told me it's not if but when," Kennedy Lliso, Joey's father and retired Army chef said. "He is always optimistic. He is resilient and is always excited about new challenges."
He said his son always displayed academic prowess earning A's since first grade. Being a former boxer and athlete in his youth, Lliso wanted to make sure his son was exposed to sports.
"I wanted to get him involved in some type of sport," the proud father said. "When he was 4 years old I put him in karate. It was to get him in the activity mode. After that, when he was 5, it was little league baseball and every year after that it was whatever activity he was involved in. Whatever activity was going on at the youth center or county where I was stationed, he was involved in it.
During the younger Lliso's childhood, home was in San Antonio where his father was stationed. The family moved to Hinesville when he was transferred to Fort Stewart around nine years ago.
"When he arrived in Hinesville he immediately got involved in football, soccer and baseball," Lliso said.
Joey Lliso continued to excel in sports and lettered in football for two years and soccer for three as a Tiger. As a senior he was the varsity team captain in soccer and football. He also played one year of baseball. He was awarded the Presidential Physical Fitness Award in 2004, 2006 and 2007.
Academically he won a USAA National Science Award, a Distinguished Cadet Award (2004), took second place at state JROTC Drill Competition (2005), took first place in Fort Stewart and second place statewide in the Military Teen Idol competition (2007).
He received letters of acceptance from Harvard and other Ivey league schools like Duke. But Lliso yearned to follow in his parent's footsteps and go into the military. The last letter he received was from West Point.
Lliso's dad, who is currently a computer engineer, said his son had always told him he wanted to be in the military but also study medicine. His mother, Flor M. Lliso, is a Captain and doctor, currently deployed in Iraq. She is scheduled to return home soon and will retire from the Army in four years.
"He said dad sooner or later I'm going to go into the military, so why not do it now," Lliso's father recalled about the moment his son opened the letter from West Point."
Lliso said West Point has a program that will send his son to Yale after he completes his four-year studies. Joey Lliso hopes to complete his studies to become a neurologist and brain surgeon.
"He balances his athletic life and academic life well and is happy doing both," his father said. "He is very outgoing with everybody. If he doesn't have friends then you would think something was wrong. He tells me 'daddy, I can't believe I'm kicking for the Army football team'. He is always telling me that they are doing some really cool things but insists his focus is on school first and then football."
In the meantime Lliso will glue his eyes to the set as the Army team opens the season against Temple. The 7 p.m. game is set to be televised on ESPN Classic.

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