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Face of Defense: NCO Balances Soldiering, Coaching

By Army Spc. Darryl L. Montgomery
504th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade

FORWARD OPERATING BASE SPIN BOLDAK, Afghanistan, Oct. 13, 2011 – Army Master Sgt. Marvin B. Morgan, the 504th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade's equal opportunity advisor, is a full-time soldier -- and a football coach when he is not soldiering.

Currently deployed to Afghanistan, the Killeen, Texas, resident already is planning the next big move in his coaching career.

Morgan, who has coached 9- to 11-year-olds in Killeen since 2001, said he has wonderful memories from his time on the sideline and feels his time as a coach has been successful.

"Success for me isn't necessarily measured in wins and losses," Morgan said. "It's being able to watch a kid who doesn't know how to play at first, and by the end of the year, you see they have a skill set they can build upon.

"Last year, we had 23 kids on the team, and 15 of them had never played football in their life. Of the eight other players, only five of them had played more than one year," he continued. "To bring them together and try to build a cohesive team and win a game, … that's the challenge I like."

Morgan said he likes to instill qualities in his young players that many do not see until they are much older. His message goes beyond football.

"You aren't just an athlete, you are a student-athlete," he said. "To play for Coach Morgan, you are a student first. If you can't get it right in the classroom, you're not going to be able to get it right on the football field. Therefore, you can't play for me."

When children learn about the student-athlete concept early on, Morgan said, they will be better able to handle it when they get to the level where it is required, such as high school and college.

Another area he focuses on as a coach is discipline. "To know the right snap count, to be able to know and run the right plays, it all takes discipline,” he said. “It's hard to be disciplined in that if you aren't disciplined at home or in the classroom."

Morgan said he has had a lot of rewarding experiences, but the most rewarding he has had as a coach, so far, is to hear about how his players have matured academically and socially.

"To see a kid who I had at 9, 10 and 11 years old, and now they are 14 to 16 years old and they still remember what you did for them when they played for you," he said, "those kids will always remember what Coach Morgan taught them: to play like a champion.

"But to play like a champion, you have to practice like a champion, you have to think like a champion, and you have to act like a champion,” he added. “You can't just go play like a champion. There are things a champion does to become a champion."

When Morgan returns from his deployment, he said, he hopes to coach one more year at the 9-to-11-year-old level, then move up to middle school football. "I feel like I've mastered the age group I coach now, so I'd like to see what I can do with older kids," he said.

Morgan, who has a master's degree in education, said that when he decides to retire from the military, he would like to apply to become an assistant principal at a middle school and coach football at the school, which he said would help him to positively influence the students on and off the football field.

His objective as a leader and football coach, he said, is to "ensure that each child underneath the reflection of my voice becomes a better person, student, and player of the best game ever played."

 

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