Giving Back: Former All Army Basketball Team player returns father's mentorship to area youth
December 21, 2009
<b>COLUMBIA, S.C. -</b> Some say one retired Army master sergeant who spent numerous years playing on the All-Army Basketball Team was probably born wearing a pair of basketball shoes.
Now, Timothy Jordan, a Department of the Army civilian assigned to the 81st Regional Support Command based at nearby Fort Jackson, S.C., spends his spare time volunteering and mentoring Columbia-area youth as the president of the 11-12 age group of the Northeast Youth Basketball League.
"Our number one goal has been to teach youth the proper fundamentals of basketball and teamwork," said the 20-year Army veteran.
The league has a diverse group of youth from a broad range of backgrounds participating throughout Richland County and the areas around Fort Jackson, S.C., said Jordan, a retired military policeman.
During a recent Saturday morning, Jordan set aside his role as president and manned the scoreboard and verified team rosters for the day's games.
From controlling the game ball from anxious micro-sized players before the competition to acting as mediator between parents, coaches and referees, Jordan's mission was simple - providing a secure atmosphere for the youth and their families.
"We try to provide a safe environment for the players to have fun and learn basketball fundamentals, all while promoting healthy and responsible living," he said. "This directly contributes to the players developing life skills and confidence that transcends the basketball court.
For the past three out of nine years Jordan has been coaching at the Northeast Youth Basketball League and admits being inspired to coach by his daughter.
"I started out coaching when my daughter wanted to try her luck at playing basketball and soccer," he said, and she also hasn't stopped since.
Since the age of five, Jordan has been playing basketball and other activities young boys enjoy to release pent up energy. The most memorable moment during Jordan's career as a Soldier was being asked to join the All Army Basketball Team in 1990.
That high point of his life was the result of years of positive motivation from his father.
"My father was my coach and role model while growing up," he said. "He inspired me to live up to my potential as a person and player."
Jordan said a coach isn't necessarily someone with a clipboard and a whistle. "A coach can be a teacher, counselor, leader, friend, administrator and guardian," he said. "He or she can help a kid grow and develop through their experiences in sports and life."
Because of his connection with the Army Reserve, Jordan, who is assigned to the Directorate of Emergency Services, reached out to two Soldiers assigned to the 81st RSC to help coach and mentor a local basketball team.
Answering the call to volunteer was Master Sgt. Kenny Greene and Staff Sgt. Reinaldo Rivera, both assigned to the "Wildcat" command, which provides base operations for more than 40,000 Soldiers in southeastern states.
When asked why he invited Army Reserve non-commissioned officers to help coach basketball, Jordan said his request was a perfect marriage between NCO values and mentorship of young aspiring basketball stars in need of a positive role model.
"They bring leadership that has been instilled into them as Soldiers," he said. "Being a coach is very similar to being a team leader, squad leader, platoon or first sergeant. You have to make instant decisions -- sometime costly ones. They bring the task, conditions and standard with them as coaches."
Jordan said the most important thing is not what happens during the game, but the life lessons the players learn while being a part of a small team.
Knowing that everybody can't be the next basketball superstar is a huge obstacle to overcome, he admitted.
"I really hope they learn the importance of teamwork," he said. "They need to be able to understand and appreciate the aspects of give and take that are present on the basketball court and allow them to work well with others."
As the games provide a healthy environment through exercise, Jordan hopes at the end of the day the youth get a chance to meet new friends and learn about goal setting, teamwork and losses.
"Besides, you can't get all of that from sitting on the couch playing video games," he said.
<i>Editor's note: "Giving Back," is a three-part series about four Army Reserve team members who spend their free time volunteering and giving back to their local communities. During this short series, the individuals recognized will be Chief Warrant Officer Betty Agnew, Master Sgt. Kenny Greene, Staff Sgt. Reinaldo Rivera and Master Sgt. (Ret.) Timothy Jordan and their extraordinary efforts within their communities.</i>