By RACHEL JACKSON/THE BAYONETJuly 1, 2010
Between preparing for Commander's Cup championships, more than 12 intramural leagues and helping with other sporting events on post, sports coordinator Willie Spann said he stays busy, but he enjoys his job.
The retired sergeant, who works in the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation sports department, said he has always had a love for sports. He played basketball and football and ran track in high school. At 18, he joined the Army and played in intramural leagues.
Spann has fond memories of playing sports when he was stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, and in Wurzburg, Germany.
"The games were all about teamwork and having a good time," he said. "It didn't matter what your rank was, you just went out and played and I liked that."
And if he was stressed out, playing sports was the perfect relief, he said.
After retiring from the Army in 1995, Spann worked as a civilian in Germany as a recreation aide and a gym facility manager until he landed a job as a sports coordinator at Fort Benning four years ago.
While at Fort Benning, his focus has always been about the Soldiers, he said.
"At the end of the day, if I can make them happy, I am happy," he said. "It's all about providing a great program for them because I don't know what will happen to them - they could be at Fort Benning one day and downrange the next - but I want them to remember the (sports staff) cares about them."
He said being fair and equal and maintaining a quality program is important.
The intramural sports aren't just sports, Spann said. They are a morale booster for Soldiers.
"If they've had a bad day, they can come out here, play ball and forget about it," he said.
The intramural leagues are popular on post, but because of deployments numbers of teams have dwindled in past years, Spann said, but he expects their popularity will increase when the Base Realignment and Closure influx of Soldiers from Fort Knox, Ky., arrive at Fort Benning.
In addition to unit leagues, Spann has started offering leagues for family members, including indoor soccer at Smith Fitness Center, women's softball and he just finished running a women's volleyball season.
"We want family members to know we care about them too," Spann said.
Ken Wetherill, DFMWR sports director, said Spann is more than dedicated to what he does.
"For him, this isn't just a job - he truly cares about people," he said. "I have never seen anyone who cares so much about the program and the Soldiers and families. He has a passion for what he does and he works a lot behind the scenes. When he isn't working on the intramural leagues, he helps out at the fitness centers. He's the kind of guy who will do anything for anyone."
Spann said having a job where he can interact with the Soldiers and their families is rewarding and he wouldn't have it any other way.
"I like being around the Soldiers and families because we have walked in the same pair of shoes. I can relate to them," he said.
In the end, he hopes Soldiers and family members leave the intramural leagues with a sense of camaraderie and a love for sports.