By Ms. Brittany Nelson (IMCOM)January 23, 2019
FORT SAM HOUSTON (Jan. 23, 2019)-- The All Army Sports program has seen several outstanding Soldier athletes and coaches including rugby sevens coach retired Col. Mark Drown and basketball coach Cpt. Carl Little.
All-Army consists of 16 team and individual sports which compete against other sister services, at the USA National Championships and at the World Military Games. The World Military Games is the second largest athletic competition after the Olympics with military athletics from countries around the world.
Drown, Commander, 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Utah, National Guard, was an original member of the All-Army rugby program from the rugby 15's and to the transition to rugby sevens.
In 2012, Drown was named head coach of the rugby sevens team. Drown brought with him years of experience as a player and coaching experience from the University of Utah, where he started an all-state youth rugby program.
"My favorite part of coaching is interacting with the athletes and watching them achieve their goals. It is my job to provide the stewardship and mentorship to help them be successful," Drown said.
One Soldier athlete Drown coached was Cpt. William Holder, 2nd Battalion, 12th Field Artillery Regiment.
"My favorite thing about coach is how much he cares. He is the kind of guy that has his hands in everything," Holder said. "Despite his busy schedule, I would still constantly get phone calls about the next big rugby player he found for the team, or a new practice drill that he learned and wanted to use with the team. The passion, selflessness, and the time and effort that he puts in have always been something that I looked up to and tried to emulate."
Holder played for the Combined Services when he was a cadet and was recruited by Drown and a few others after he graduated from West Point in 2014.
After winning fourth place in the Armed Forces Championship in 2012, Drown worked with the All-Army team, turning the team around to win six Armed Forces Championships.
After Drown retired from the Army, he was hired by the Fiji national team as the manager where team competed in 15 national tournaments around the world including the Commonwealth Games and the World Cup. Drown credits the Army for this opportunity.
"Working for All-Army Sports gave me that opportunity. The caliber of athletes the Army had helped me with that. I would have never gotten that if it weren't for the military," Drown said.
Drown currently works for the Utah Warriors, a pro league rugby team, as the manager. The team has two All-Army players, Sgt. John Cullen and Sgt. Mike Melendez-Rivera.
"I've got guys that join the Army after seeing the All-Army athletes. Now we have really good athletes asking about the Army and All-Army Sports," Drown said.
Little is another All-Army coach that has done great things for the team and his career. Little entered the Air Force, serving as an aircraft armament crew member and then transferred to the "Blue to Green" program where he received his commission.
Little, a battalion executive officer and task force assistant professor of military science, has been coaching the All-Army basketball team since 2013.
The team's current record in the Armed Forces tournament is 18-3. They won silver in 2014 and gold in 2016 and 2017.
"Seeing a team come together as one and working toward a common goal is my favorite part about coaching. Soldier athletes are coachable and work hard every time they step on the floor," Little said.
Little also credits the Army for giving him great opportunities to continue a coaching career after his service.
"All-Army Sports has placed me in different positions to meet coaches at every level and make connections for my career after the Army. It has increased my leadership skills by allowing me to coach different personalities," Little said.
Staff Sgt. Tyronne Beale, a player on Little's team, speaks highly of his coach.
"He selected me to be a part of the All-Army team. He's always motivating me, he will send me a motivational text every morning. He is a tough coach but he is fair. I love his passion and enthusiasm," Beale said.
Beale has been playing on the team since 2014 and is proud to play for the Army.
"It is a huge honor to play. When you have the Army across your chest you represent not just yourself or your unit, it's a great feeling," Beale said.
Little plans to coach at the NCAA or NBA level once he has finished his Army career.