Face of Defense: Lessons Learned on Court Help NCO Lead Soldiers
JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va., Aug. 17, 2012 – He initially joined the Army in hopes of one day playing for the all-Army men’s basketball team, a goal he later achieved. But Staff Sgt. Terrell Moorer said he never imagined the tools the game of basketball would give him in leading his soldiers.
“It’s what kept me out of the streets, and it’s what led me into the Army,” Moorer said. “Basketball is my life.”
“It taught me teamwork,” he added “In basketball if your players don’t work together, the team won’t score. The same way I depend on my teammates to rotate to the right position [on the court] is the same way I depend on my soldiers.”
Moorer is a motor transport operator assigned to the 529th Regimental Support Company, 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment [The Old Guard]. “If my soldiers don’t work together to transport those guys to their location, we don’t accomplish the mission,” the staff sergeant said.
Soldiers of The Old Guard, the U.S. Army’s official ceremonial unit, participate in high-profile ceremonies across the nation and around the world. Moorer leads the group of soldiers responsible for driving them to every event.
Capt. Scott Donoughe, 529th RSC commander, said, “Essentially, the 529th Transportation Platoon has a no-fail mission. If we don’t get those soldiers there on time for something like a presidential event, it could have national implications.” said.
The captain said a leader in the platoon must therefore be agile and adaptive.
“You have to make quick decisions, as you do on the basketball court,” Donoughe said. “Staff Sgt. Moorer exemplifies those characteristics.”
Moorer attributes his attentiveness and coordination skills to his 16 years in the game.
“When you have been running up and down the court for so long, you have to have a lot of things working for you all at once,” said Moorer. “Stamina, endurance and even a good breathing technique; all these things have to work together.”
When he was a private first class with few leadership responsibilities, Moore said, those traits were only necessary when he was playing. Now, as a noncommissioned officer in charge of 14 soldiers, he’s learned to incorporate them into the workplace.
“It’s increased my mental capacity,” Moorer said. “It’s a lot different going from worrying about yourself and being able to deal with your own problems, to dealing with soldiers and the everyday problems that they may have.”
Moorer said he instills this same willpower in the troops he leads.
“My soldiers have to be able to drive long hours and distances on the road and maneuver in and out of traffic without being fatigued,” he noted.
During physical training, Moorer teaches his soldiers basketball drills to help them cope with these challenges. He said he believes such drills can help condition and build his soldiers’ resilience on the road.
“I always preach to my troops that when you are physically in shape, mentally you feel better and are able to deal with stress a lot better,” Moorer said.
Moorer also saw his efforts pay off as his soldiers’ Army Physical Fitness Test scores increased by an average of 50 points. He also helped four soldiers lose weight through his diet.
“I started bringing salad to work for lunch so my soldiers could see what I was eating,” Moorer said. “Nine times out of 10, if you lead by example, a lot of them will take note and they will do the same thing.”
Spc. Brandon Mayer, one of Moorer’s soldiers, said the staff sergeant helped him push through challenges and earn the promotion he received June 1 after he earlier failed to meet the APFT and weight requirements.
“He was there as a guardian angel over my shoulder,” said Mayer. “He motivated me to work harder and eat healthier. His drills helped me increase my cardio, give me stamina and strengthen my abs. I was able to lose the weight and pass my PT test. I hope to follow in his footsteps one day.”
Moorer has played two seasons with the all-Army men’s basketball team and said he plans to try out for a third later this year.
“I’m absolutely amazed by basketball,” said Moorer. “Some people say it’s just a game, but it’s more than just a game. I’ve been able to use it to change soldiers’ lives.”