UT Tyler soccer player serves on and off the field

TYLER, Texas (KETK) - East Texans are slowly but surely starting to make their way back home after volunteering in the flood-zone. Among them is a UT Tyler soccer player who was deployed with the U.S. Army Texas National Guard.

Wednesday afternoon, Jessica L'Hoste was at soccer practice with her team just four days after helping with hurricane relief efforts in Katy.

 "It kind of all happened really fast but once I got there, I was definitely glad I was there," said L'Hoste.

She's a Patriot senior leader, but also a Private First Class in the 136th Military Police Battalion. 

"She's like 'coach, I gotta go,' We're like 'okay, gotta go!'" said UT Tyler Women's Soccer Coach Stefani Webb. "To be a very talented soccer player and then to also be in the Army, I don't know how she keeps it all straight to be honest."

L'Hoste celebrated her 22nd birthday on her first deployment serving others.

"We kind of went wherever they needed us," she said. "We spent all of our time there just doing search and rescue missions, helping people get out of their house, out of the water any dangerous areas stuff like that."

For her, it was eye opening to see children smile despite their world being turned upside down.

"I mean I'm definitely glad I'm home but at the same time, I'm kind of torn because there's so many people out there who is going to need help that's going to take a really long time to recover from this," she said.

Now that she's back, Coach Webb said Jessica is fully present. 

"She's contagious to everyone, I think we kind of missed that the first couple of days she was gone because she's such a magnet for everyone," said Webb. "She was down there serving flood victims and came back and she's the first one to grab the equipment, first one at practice, first one to do everything for the girls."

As soon as she graduates in the spring as planned, she will be the first one to say "yes" to go again. L'Hoste wants to serve on another deployment. She's a Kinesiology major and wants to be a physical therapist for Army veterans. 

L'Hoste and the Patriots play at home on Thursday, September 14, at 5:30 vs. Texas Dallas. It's also Food Truck night starting at 5 p.m. For their full schedule this season, click here.


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