Soldier trades football aspirations for Army career
November 19, 2008
CAMP VICTORY, Iraq - Army Sgt. 1st Class Twillie Curry had long since traded his aspirations of becoming a professional football player to follow another dream - becoming a soldier.
But when a special visitor stopped by the 619th Contingency Contracting office here Nov. 7, Curry, a contracting officer, couldn't help but recall his high school glory days.
While some soldiers knew of Keith Elias as a former professional football player who once played for the New York Giants and Indianapolis Colts, Curry had a closer association.
Curry and Elias both played high school football in New Jersey at the same time.
"Keith played for Lacey Township, another team in our area, and he was an all-state running back," said Curry, a Cliffwood, N.J., native. "His team went undefeated also, along with four other teams. We were state champions, but I wished we could've had a playoff amongst the teams from the other conferences."
The players never met on the playing field, but Curry kept up with Elias' career.
"To see a guy like Sgt. 1st Class Curry, who grew up playing football in the same area as me, it shows that it really is a small world out there," said Elias, who was visiting the soldiers as part of a tour sponsored by a faith-based organization.
Curry went on to college football and played in his freshman year, but said he was more interested in seeing the world. That quest led him to join the Army in 1990.
Even after enlisting in the Army, Curry still held on to some of his professional football aspirations.
"While at my first duty station in Germany, I wrote a letter to the Frankfurt Galaxy asking for a tryout," Curry said, referring to the semi-pro football team. "I wanted one last shot at playing football."
The team wrote back to him, but he was conducting field training and never made it to the tryout. His dream of being a professional football player was over.
But Curry had already embarked on a new dream, one that he is still living 18 years later -- the Army. He said he has no regrets, noting that football gave him important attributes like mental toughness, teamwork and discipline, that helped him along his Army career.
"One of my assignments was as an instructor at Fort Lee (Va.), and I served as a teacher for a lot of young soldiers," Curry said. Above anything I have ever done in football, I got to share my knowledge and help guide young soldiers.
"I had soldiers come back to me down the road and tell me that I helped them in their career path, and they remembered the things I taught them," he said. "It made me proud to know I made a difference, and I'm proud to be serving my country."
(Army Spc. Justin Snyder serves in the Multinational Division Center Public Affairs Office)