Leadership, integrity, and personal courage make for a great Soldier, but for one senior noncommissioned officer, living these Army values also makes for a winning coach.
This weekend, Sgt. 1st Class Donnell Britt, station commander of the St. Paul Army Reserve Recruiting Station, Minn., will find out how modeling these values for a team of 9 and 10 year old football stars may help his players nab a national title.
In October, Britt led Woodbury Athletic Association’s fourth-grade football team, the Royals, to win Minnesota’s Amateur Athletic Union state championship in Minneapolis. Friday, he’ll lead his team to Houston, Texas to square off in the AAU’s national tournament.
“They have already won in my opinion,” Britt said of the Royals. “But if they win (the national title), it would be something they will cherish for a lifetime.”
Britt is head coach of the team, which is comprised of players from four in-house WAA teams, including his own son 10-year-old Malcolm, and two other coaches.
Britt said he thinks the skills and discipline he has learned as a Soldier has helped him be disciplined and focused as a coach. He said the lessons he has learned throughout his military career help him instill the very values these young athletes need to be successful on and off the field.
“I believe that a lot of situations that occur on the football field will help a kid out later in life,” Britt said.
To help prepare his players for this weekend’s tournament, Britt said he helped them build upon their strengths through repetition and improve upon their weaknesses through step by the numbers at practices, which take place three times a week.
He said he’s noticed his players have greatly improved on the basic fundamentals, such as blocking and tackling. He said
he aspires to help his players get better every day. He even had the players’ parents get more involved by having them hold pads and running the chains.
“Their support is huge,” Britt said of the parents who helped out.
Like those parents, Britt’s own passion for coaching began in 2006 when he decided he wanted to spend more time with his eldest son, Malik, who was playing on Woodbury’s 3rd grade team. “I spent some time separated from him due to my military obligations, and I wanted to watch him grow and show him I was there for him,” Britt said. “As I started out just helping the coaching staff I started to love coaching, and coaching all the kids, and not just mine.”
Each year after, Britt became more 3rd grade team. Since then he has helped his players win two state titles and five league championships. If the Royals win the national tournament, which ends Sunday, this will be Britt’s first national title as a coach.
“As a coach I love to win but how they play the game to me is most important,” Britt said. “The main thing is to play hard and have fun.”
Good Luck to Sgt. 1st Class Britt and the Royals! Army Strong!
Blog post submitted by 2Lt. Yves-Marie Daley, 364TH Public Affairs Operation Center