All Navy Sports - Another Way to Serve
Service member, Sailor, and Soccer Player
"Why did you join the Navy?" is a question Sailors hear throughout their career. Often and in addition to "for money for school, a sense of purpose, or to do something with my life", the response is simply "to serve."
The intramural sports program allows Sailors and Coastguardsmen who demonstrate high-level athletic skills to compete in Department of Defense sports competitions while serving as goodwill ambassadors for the armed forces. The program is open to all active duty and reservists who are looking for a way to expand the reach of their service beyond the bounds of the normal commitment to duty.
"We are ambassadors for the Navy and the ones who go on to the U.S. team are ambassadors for the country," said Chief Hospital Corpsman Nathan Gavin, Head Coach of the All-Navy Men's soccer team. "So we tell the guys that you are essentially a paid professional athlete for 30 days because this is your job."
Getting to the field requires more than just a desire to play. Potential players must submit a request to their chain of command to obtain approval for temporary assignment duty (TAD) orders to the camp for the 30-day season. While some may find this task to be difficult given the demands of duty, Coach Gavin believes many leaders find it beneficial to send qualified candidates to the playing field.
"Commands know that if they take care of their guys and let them go to do these things, they will get more out of them at work because they will appreciate their commands even more," said Gavin. "But it really comes down to operational commitments and if the command can afford to send you elsewhere."
Next, candidates must apply to the All-Navy Sports program, describing their playing experience and level, all in hopes of receiving an invitation to the trial camp in San Diego were they will demonstrate their skills to team officials. Once the players have exhibited their abilities to play, the assessment of their commitment to service begins.
"I'm not just evaluating talent as far as soccer goes, we want good people in the program," said Gavin. "So if you get somebody with a bad attitude off the field and doesn't want to help out then that's not somebody we want in our program."