By Nathan DeenMay 24, 2013
FORT BENNING, Ga., (May 22, 2013) -- Carl Little's aspirations to coach collegiate basketball took a step toward reality April 13.
The first lieutenant with 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, from Virginia Beach, Va., accepted an offer from Columbus State to be a volunteer assistant coach.
"Something I'm looking forward to doing after I'm retired is to coach collegiate basketball," said the 32-year-old Little, who has spent 14 years in the military and has seven to go before he can pursue his dream of becoming a head coach.
Robert Moore, head basketball coach at CSU, said he thought the program desperately needed more people on its coaching staff.
"That made me go to my athletic director and say, 'I know we don't have the money right now to hire someone, but can we get someone to volunteer and help out?'" Moore said.
The Cougars are coming off a 13-13 season and are hoping Little can come in and help improve the team's play in the post, Moore said.
"He played the post position in college so we wanted someone to come in and work with the post players," he said. "We felt like we were really weak in that area last year."
Moore also said he was won over by Little's enthusiasm for the game, which is invaluable to thriving in a role that isn't a paid position.
"A lot of times people want to volunteer but they don't really know what they're getting themselves in to," he said.
More than anything, Little said he wants to be able to mentor players off the court as much as on the court, something he couldn't really do with Soldiers who are past their college years.
"I'm trying to develop a (coaching) style that fits the college level," Little said.
"They're younger and they're still at the developmental stage. You've got to have the right coach to get them to the next level.
"The collegiate level is make or break. You're making men. You're transitioning them to go into society. I want to be that coach that reels them in and teaches them about life."
Little played his college ball at Virginia State and played professionally while with the Air Force overseas in Italy and Japan, he said.
Little jump-started and coached the Fort Benning Knights, the post men's basketball team, for a year before deploying with 3rd ABCT to Kuwait in 2012. Little coached the team alongside his assistant, James Johnson, who coaches MEDDAC in intramural basketball.
When Little deployed, Johnson took over as head coach. Though Johnson remained the head coach after Little's return, Little joined the team as an assistant and helped the Knights finish third in the National Military Basketball Championships.
"Without his support I don't think we would have gotten that far," Johnson said. "He was a very valuable asset to me and the Fort Benning Team."
Johnson will remain the coach of the Knights as Little, with his work, Family and CSU responsibilities, will not be able to return to the team.
"He's going to do well in his role," Johnson said. "I wish him well and hopefully he'll bring CSU up to another level.
"He's got a great basketball mind. I think he's a good role model for any young student. I think he'll be a mentor and a good role model. He's going to make them work for it because nothing comes easy and nothing comes free."
Little said he will miss the team but is looking forward to his new opportunity.
"I was down last year when I deployed," Little said about being away from coaching. "I knew we were going to move to a new conference and the team was going to do great things.
"The team is in good hands. I think (Johnson is) going to take the program to new heights."