By Bob ReinertApril 10, 2009
FORT LEWIS, Wash. - His past and future could intersect in the present.
On Monday, Mark Knight of Fort Lewis will travel to Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa., to take the reins as head coach of the All-Army Women's Basketball Team at its trial camp. Less than two years from his retirement as a Soldier, the 43-year-old Knight could be auditioning for his second career.
"That's what I plan on doing as soon as I get out," Knight said. "I want to pursue a coaching job at the highest levels of college."
Knight, a Novato, Calif., native, has spent the past 25 years in an Army uniform. Currently, he is a captain serving as the 62nd Medical Brigade's aviation liaison officer. Previously, he flew as a medevac pilot during two deployments to Iraq.
When he's done serving his country, Knight will follow his dream of coaching basketball. The former high school player took a first step in that direction this year as a volunteer assistant men's coach at nearby Pierce College.
"It's a small athletic department, but their facilities are first class," Knight said of Pierce.
At the same time, Knight has been working on a master's degree in coaching from the United States Sports Academy. He has a bachelor's degree in exercise science and physical education from Arizona State University.
"I love the college game," Knight said. "The spirit of the game is found in the college and amateur ranks of the game."
Knight applied and was chosen to coach the Army women. Next week, he will welcome 20 candidates - including Randye Myers of Fort Lewis - to Fort Indiantown Gap for the All-Army trial camp that extends through May 9. He will keep 12-14 players for the Armed Forces Championship, which takes place May 10-18 at Naval Air Station Millington (Tenn.).
Knight promised to run a highly organized camp with only one goal in mind.
"I'm happy for this opportunity," Knight said. "I don't plan on going there to compete. I plan on going there to win."
In preparation, the All-Army team will play tune-up games in New York City and Washington, D.C., before heading to Millington, where it will play six games in as many days, two against each of the other services.
"That's a huge amount of effort," Knight said. "I've got a very thorough, laid-out, structured plan of attack. Every minute of every day is accounted for."
As Knight pointed out, All-Army candidates are chosen on the basis of their playing resumes. He has yet to see any of them in action.
"Those 20 are very strong," Knight said. "We've got everything from Division 1 College players that were all-conference to Division 2, Division 3, junior college and high school all-stars. These (players) are solid."
Based on what he has heard from sports directors at various posts, Knight said he believes he has a sense of how his team will play.
"I expect the team to be a ... defensive-minded, lightning-quick team," Knight said.
He will do his best to mold them into a championship unit in a short period of time.
"We're all there to represent the United States Army and do the best we can," Knight said. "It's going to be fun."
And it could open the door to Knight's retirement job.
"I can't get there fast enough, and I can't work hard enough," Knight said. "And the Army's prepared me well enough to do both."
Bob Reinert is a reporter with Fort Lewis' Northwest Guardian.