Chairman Motivates USA Basketball Teams
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jul. 14, 2012 The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff gave a motivational talk to players on the USA Basketball men’s and women’s national teams here today.
Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia, senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, far left, joins Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, center, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, his wife, Deanie Dempsey, right, and Navy Adm. James “Sandy” A. Winnefeld Jr., near left, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, courtside as they watch the USA Basketball men’s national team scrimmage at the District of Columbia National Guard Armory in Washington, D.C., July 14, 2012. DOD photo by U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey met the basketball players, who are preparing for upcoming Olympics competition in London, at the District of Columbia National Guard Armory. He was joined by service members and their families for the “Hoops for Troops” program.
The “Hoops for Troops” program, launched in 2006, provides support for the U.S. military and their families through programs, events, and partnerships, according to the USA Basketball website.
“If you’re a huge sports fan, this is one of these events that have got to be memorable to you,” Dempsey said. “It is a huge morale boost for us, that is to say, those that serve and their families.”
Dempsey said the event was a great morale boost for troops, but it was equally important for the men’s and women’s basketball teams, which he had the opportunity to talk to before the event began.
“I told them I’m not going to give you any advice on how to play basketball,” he said. “I’m not going to talk to you about leadership because you’ve got Coach Mike Krzyzewski and Geno Auriemma, two of the finest leaders of any profession in our country.” Krzyzewksi coaches the USA Basketball men’s national team and Auriemma coaches the USA Basketball women’s national team.
The chairman said he explained to the players how the U.S. military’s young men and women operate with trust in themselves, their leaders and the institution they support.
“I let it just sit there,” Dempsey said. “I didn’t tell them: ‘Therefore, you need to trust each other.’ But in having that conversation about what makes us an effective team, and the foundation of which is trust, I think they’re clever enough young men and young women to figure out that the message is if they’re going to succeed in London they’d better learn to trust each other -- in an extraordinary way.”
Dempsey also explained his connection to Coach Krzyzewski.
“We do go back several decades I guess,” Dempsey said with a laugh, “[We’re] both ‘West Pointers’ -- him, Class of ’69; I’m the Class of ’74. I went to graduate school at Duke while he was the coach.
“And then when I became the [U.S.] Training and Doctrine commander, I reached out to him on the basis on a shared interest in leader development,” the chairman continued. “And on that basis, we’ve grown even closer over the years.”
The chairman said he most admires Krzyzewski’s ability to adapt, “which is one of the attributes we’ve said as a force is most in need in the future … because we don’t know exactly what we’ll confront.”
Dempsey also touched on the “Hoops for Troops” program which is an effort “to keep connected to athletes” and serves as one of a “triad” of important national outreach efforts.
Another outreach program of interest to the military, the chairman said, is First Lady Michelle Obama’s ‘Let’s Move’ initiative, which seeks to solve the problem of childhood obesity within a generation. DOD began partnering with the “Let’s Move” initiative last year.
Dempsey said another key program is the “Joining Forces” initiative that’s spearheaded by the First Lady and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden. The national initiative calls on all sectors of society -- from citizens and communities, to businesses and nonprofit groups -- to honor and support military families.
Joining Forces “seeks to connect communities and make it easier for soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and their families … to move around the country and not have to restart everything every time they move,” the chairman said. “It’s been really successful.”
Dempsey noted the success of these programs derives from the fact that they’re not managed “top down,” or only senior-leader driven. Once resources, guidance and motivation are provided, he said, these programs catch on from the “bottom up.”