Youth sports benefit Airmen, kids

  • Published
  • By Tyler Hemstreet
  • 62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Some of the most valuable leadership skills being taught at McChord aren't in the shops, offices or on the flightline -- but on the soccer field.

Teamwork is teamwork no matter how you look at it, said Lt. Col. Ted Detwiler, 62nd Operations Support Squadron, who coaches his son's 9 and 10-year-old soccer team.

"[The soccer field] is a great learning laboratory," he said. "Being a coach will get you to get everyone to focus on the common goal."

Whether that goal is uniting Airmen in each squadron to accomplish the mission or getting  9 and 10-year-olds to band together and fend off a shot attempt, the methods may be different but the desired outcome is the same -- success.

"Kids will teach you patience," said Colonel Detwiler, who not only coaches soccer, but also baseball and basketball, as well. "You have to have the ability to work with different personalities and styles."

Coaches must also be able to communicate with their players, said Colonel Detwiler.

"No two kids understand something the same way," he said. "They'll look at you straight up and say 'I don't get it.'"

The nice thing about coaching and communication in youth sports, the colonel said, is when there is a mistake or a miscommunication resulting in a missed scoring chance or penalty, the result is a learning opportunity.

That's not always the case in day-to-day operations in each squadron, Colonel Detwiler said. Mistakes can sometimes mean disaster.

The opportunity to not think about the things that can go wrong at work and just relax is a coaching bonus, said Senior Airman Jorge Gonzalez, 62nd Comptroller Squadron, who is a volunteer assistant coach on Colonel Detwiler's team.

"I didn't think that I would be so excited watching the games," he said. "I really got excited seeing how [the children] performed after some things we taught them in practice."

Airman Gonzalez, who has played soccer since his youth, said after helping out with the team a year ago, he decided he wanted to really get into it and join the coaching staff this year.

 "Sometimes I go home thinking about how I want to line them up the next time," he said "It's really rewarding to see them do well."

But no matter what benefit coaching brings to each Airman, it all comes back to the children.

"I'm not going to create a dream team of star players out there," Colonel Detwiler said. "But if the kids are having fun and learning something, then I'm doing my job."