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Around The Fleet

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."

Sometimes balancing your passion and fulfilling your own call to service can be challenging. However, a group of Sailors have discovered a way to mesh the world of sports and military service through the All-Navy Soccer program.

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."
  • Sailors assigned to the All-Navy Men's Soccer team stretch during a practice held at the Admiral Prout field.

    Sailors assigned to the All-Navy Men's Soccer team stretch during a practice held at the Admiral Prout field on Naval Base San Diego April 28. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Stacy M. Atkins Ricks.

  • Sailors and Coast Guardsmen come together to practice as part of the All-Navy soccer team.

    Sailors and Coast Guardsmen, from units all over the world, come together to practice as part of the All-Navy soccer team at Adm. Prout field on Naval Base San Diego April 28. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class (SW) Cory Booth.

  • Sailors and Coast Guardsmen come together to practice as part of the All-Navy soccer team.

    Sailors and Coast Guardsmen, from units all over the world, come together to practice as part of the All-Navy soccer team at Adm. Prout field on Naval Base San Diego April 28. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class (SW) Cory Booth.

  • Sailors and Coast Guardsmen come together to practice as part of the All-Navy soccer team.

    Sailors and Coast Guardsmen, from units all over the world, come together to practice as part of the All-Navy soccer team at Adm. Prout field on Naval Base San Diego April 28. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class (SW) Cory Booth.


To help facilitate the player's desire to perform volunteer service at a domestic level and prepare them for their roles as ambassadors at an international level, officials coordinate community relations (COMREL) projects for the team to complete in addition to the demanding physical training.

The team participated in their first COMREL project of the season in San Diego, May 6. The 24-player trial team, comprised of Sailors and Coastguardsmen from commands all over the world, volunteered at the warehouse of the San Diego Rescue Mission.

The fleet wide team volunteered services to their host community as a way to give back and encourage a climate of camaraderie.

"It's important that the community sees that we engage ourselves in more than what we are assigned for," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Fuels) 3rd Class Darreon Dewberry , stationed aboard amphibious transport dock ship USS San Antonio (LPD 17). "We are just doing our part."

After a two-and-half-hour soccer practice at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, California, the team devoted three hours to assisting at the warehouse by sorting, organizing, and preparing donations for purchase at the Rescue Mission's non-profit store.

"We came from all over the world and San Diego is hosting us for the next 30 days so we wanted to give back to the community," said Gavin. "This also helps us with team building so we get to know each other off the field."

Lieutenant Scott Cook, team member and E-2D Hawkeye Naval Flight Officer stationed in Norfolk, Virginia, believes volunteer events like this are essential to relationships, service, and sportsmanship.

"This isn't just soccer, it's teaching these guys about what it is to be part of a team, and to be away from your community and together with not just Officers and Enlisted but a team in general," said Cook. "We only have a month together so this helps us get to know each other. I hope all this will translate to the field."

Players hope that the team's service will inspire others to get involved in community relations and participate in volunteer projects.

"We know in the Navy that volunteer service is a big thing right now for the community," said Hospitalman Samuel Choi Hendry, stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort South Carolina. "We are all about service in wartime and in peace time so volunteering means being a patriot in that way too. It's not about getting an MP or an EP [or getting high marks on evaluation reports] it's really about giving back and I hope more Sailors do that on their free time."

Hendry expressed his appreciation for the program affording him the opportunity to serve the community and the country while simultaneously pursuing his passion for soccer.

"My dad was a soccer coach so I grew up with a ball at my feet. My brother was already in the Air Force and he told me [about] these military soccer teams," said Hendry. "That is one of the reasons I [joined]. I wanted to serve my country. I was adopted and being from Korea I would've had to serve [in Korea] anyway, so I really wanted to serve the country I was adopted into so I feel even more proud to be in the U.S Navy and a soccer player."
  • Sailors and Coast Guardsmen come together to practice as part of the All-Navy soccer team.

    Sailors and Coast Guardsmen, from units all over the world, come together to practice as part of the All-Navy soccer team at Adm. Prout field on Naval Base San Diego April 28. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class (SW) Cory Booth.

  • Sailors assigned to the All-Navy Men's Soccer team vie for the soccer ball during a practice.

    Sailors assigned to the All-Navy Men's Soccer team vie for the soccer ball during a practice held at the Admiral Prout field on Naval Base San Diego April 28. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Stacy M. Atkins Ricks.

  • Sailors and Coast Guardsmen come together to practice as part of the All-Navy soccer team.

    Sailors and Coast Guardsmen, from units all over the world, come together to practice as part of the All-Navy soccer team at Adm. Prout field on Naval Base San Diego April 28. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class (SW) Cory Booth.

  • Sailors assigned to the All-Navy Men's Soccer team race for the soccer ball during a practice.

    Sailors assigned to the All-Navy Men's Soccer team race for the soccer ball during a practice held at the Admiral Prout field on Naval Base San Diego April 28. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Stacy M. Atkins Ricks.

  • Sailors assigned to the All-Navy Men's Soccer team participate in scoring drills during a practice.

    Sailors assigned to the All-Navy Men's Soccer team participate in scoring drills during a practice held at the Admiral Prout field on Naval Base San Diego April 28. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Stacy M. Atkins Ricks.


Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Kyle Baker, assigned to the Space Field Activity in Chantilly, Virginia, also credited his love for the game as the foundation to his military service commitment.

"I joined the Navy right out of college where I was playing soccer and I was concerned about not playing anymore," said Baker. "I did some research and found out that there was a branch team, not just the team for the Academy, so I applied right out of "A" school."

Many players conveyed a greater sense of dedication once they learned of the program. Baker believed the sense of fulfillment he has from wearing the uniform and playing the game he loves resulted in a renewed desire to go above and beyond for service.

"I'm not just playing for myself but I'm playing for my command," continued Baker. "They went out on a limb for me and allowed me to do this so that's like an extra push for me."

Players hoped to encourage anyone who has the same desire to pursue another way to serve and fulfill a personal quest to give it a real try.

"I know that playing soccer seems like a long shot, its not the norm when you think about being in the Navy, but if you really want it, reach out, network and keep training," continued Baker. "The opportunity is out there you just have to do the work, don't give up."

Members of the team hoped to maintain the delicate balance of keeping with Navy tradition and professionalism while competing for a change to take their ambassadorship skills international if invited to play at the World Military Games, International Military Sports Council Soccer Tournaments in South Korea this fall.

For more information on All-Navy Sports navyfitness.org/all-navy-sports.