Each year, the U.S. Army All-American Bowl gives America’s top high school players a chance to showcase their talents on a national stage. In the past, participants have included future NFL stars Tim Tebow, Adrian Peterson and Haloti Ngata. In this year’s game, played on Jan. 7, Mullen High School (Denver) quarterback Cyler Miles distinguished himself as a player to watch, as he led his team of West All-Stars to a convincing 24-12 victory.
For many, however, the most rewarding part of the All-American Bowl isn’t the game itself; it’s the week leading up to it, during which the Army demonstrates its ability to train leaders through a Combine and a Coaches Academy.
What makes the Coaches Academy unique is that it’s led, not by celebrity coaches or sports stars, but by the Army Cadet Command, the parent organization of the Army’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program. Hence, the training that coaches receive is nearly identical to the training ROTC cadets get in school.
“We may call it unit training or leadership development or mentoring or counseling, but in a large sense, what good Army leaders at all levels do is coach,” says Maj. Gen. Mark McDonald.
Even ROTC cadets themselves get opportunities to develop their leadership skills as they work the event’s Combine, “practicing” the coaching and mentoring techniques they’ll use as Army officers by guiding future NFL stars through the stations.
The link between leadership on the sports field and the battlefield is never clearer than during the Army's All-American Bowl week. Visit the game’s online home to learn more about the leadership training around the event. And if your coach has been challenging you to become a stronger leader on the field, consider a semester or two of ROTC or JROTC for experience that will help you grow both on and off the field.