By Spec. Ashley Armstrong, Staff Writer, 94th AAMDCApril 30, 2010
AIEA, Hawaii- Serving in the U.S. military is an opportunity to give back to a nation that offers freedom, justice and equality to all who call it 'home'. One 94th Army Air and Missile Defense soldier takes it a step further to give not only to his country but to his local community as well.
Sgt. 1st Class Jay Chaviera, early warning system evaluator, Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 94th AAMDC headquartered at Fort Shafter, volunteers as a defensive back coach for the Aiea High School Na Ali'I football team to give back the community, the high school and the sport he was raised in.
"I coach because I want to give back to the community, the high school and the team that has done so much for me and means so much to me. It's rewarding just to see the smiles on the kids' faces after the sweat and tears," said Chaviera.
Chaviera has coached football at the High School since he returned from his second deployment in 2009, at the request of head coach Wendell Say who coached him during his football days at Aiea High in 85'-89'.
Coincidentally, 2009 was the same year that Chaviera's oldest son Jarrel began his education and football career at the school.
"After we heard (Chaviera) was here, we asked him to come out, especially with his son on the team," said Say. "It's great to have him back. It's always good to have alumni come and coach because they have been in these kid's shoes and can relate to them."
Say proudly displays a photo of Chaviera from his deployment to Afghanistan on his wall in his office.
Chaviera played quarterback as well as defensive back in his days at Aiea High. This season his son wants to follow in his foot-steps as quarterback.
"Having my dad coach me, helps motivate me and makes me try harder. I feel like I'm always being watched and if I slack off he will get on my case," said Jarrel who played as a receiver for the team last season.
Chaviera said he really enjoys the time he spends coaching his son and having the opportunity to teach and show him what he has learned.
"I've never forced (Jarrel) into football, he followed the crowd into it, but it makes me happy to see him play especially for the team that I used to play for," he said.
Chaviera grew up in the Halawa low- moderate income housing, here, and says he puts special interest in the players who live there.
"It's especially satisfying to me when coaching the kids that came from where I grew up, to see the smiles on their faces, and that they forget any bad living situations they may be in because they are just so happy to play," said Chaviera.
The Na'ali'I football team has been training for the season for about a month. Chaviera goes to the school after work three times a week, when is his job permits, to help coach and train.
"I think my experience in the military has helped me as a coach because it's taught me discipline and has helped me know how to react to different types of attitudes and people," he said. "It has also helped me coach the kids on how to work as a team. The Army stresses teamwork, that there are no individuals, it's all about the team."
Chaviera further shows his pride for his team and high school with his Na'ali'I license plate, 'Na'ali'i', the school's mascot, refers to royalty in Hawaiian.
Chaviera's selfless service and devoted pride to his nation and his community makes him not only a true American but true Na'ali'i as well.