Richmond, Va. –
Capt. Carl Little has been in the U.S. Army for 21 years, but his career has taken a path most would not expect of a Soldier. For six years of his Army career, Little has served as a basketball coach. That's right, basketball.
The All-Army Sports Program provides an avenue for Soldier-athletes to compete at the national and international levels. The Army selects qualified Soldiers for short-term training and competition periods, with the length being dependent on the sport and skill level. In 2013, Little became the coach for the All-Army Men's Basketball Team. Just one year later, he led the team to a silver medal at the 2014 Armed Forces Basketball Championships.
Much like Army recruiters must find top talent to serve as Soldiers in various career fields, Little works to recruit those who are not only a "top athlete, but a great Soldier" to join his team, he said. Over 300 Soldiers submit applications each year to be a part of the team, but only 20 make the squad.
Little was named Coach of the Year in 2016 when his team went undefeated to win the gold medal at the Armed Forces Basketball Championships two years after winning the silver medal. It was the first time in nine years for the All-Army Team.
What it’s like to be a part of the All-Army Team
The All-Army Sports Teams operate much like the college and professional level. Players are summoned to the team as a temporary duty assignment with approval from their current military installation. They attend a training camp where they are tested on their conditioning, skills, and team chemistry for four hours a day. It’s a time for players to set themselves apart, define their roles, and showcase their talents.
The team competes against other military services in various tournaments. Much like the regular season, playoffs and championship games at the college and professional levels.
Soldiers are eligible to try out for the All-Army Team after they complete Advanced Individual Training and are assigned to their first duty station, enabling them to continue to advance in their sport while also pursuing a career. Elite Soldier-athletes even get the opportunity to represent the country in the Military World Games and Military Olympics as a part of the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program.
Capt. Little’s Tips for Future Soldiers who want to join the All-Army Sports Team
For Future Soldiers who are considering joining the All-Army Sports Team, Coach Little has a few tips:
- Every post has a team, after completing basic training and assigned to your first duty station, join your military base intramural team. Contact your installation’s Family and MWR Office for intramural sports details.
- Conditioning is important and the best way to set yourself apart from your competitors.
- College is still an option. Whether you want to play sports in college or just attend. The benefits of being an Army-athlete can afford you those opportunities. Soldiers are offered the GI Bill to return back to school and continue their education.
- Always remember, you are a Soldier first and athlete second.
After coaching the All-Army Basketball Team for six years, Little is set to retire, finishing his career in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He has left his mark as both a coach and Soldier, and his impact will be remembered for many years to come.
For more information about All Army Sports, you can visit their website at https://www.armymwr.com/programs-and-services/sports-fitness/all-army-sports, email or call +1(210)466-1337.