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News | March 13, 2024

Retired Army command sergeant major finds renewed passion for mentorship as high school girls’ volleyball coach

By 1st Lt. Pedro Rivera U.S. Army Recruiting and Retention College

After spending his Army career leading Soldiers as a noncommissioned officer, one retiree is now leading young athletes on the volleyball court.

Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Walter Hampton hung up his uniform in 2014 following 28 years of service and is now working as the director of Student Operations at the U.S. Army Recruiting and Retention College at Fort Knox. In addition to his dedication and commitment to the Army, Hampton has another aspect of his life he demonstrates deep passion for: coaching.

“Volleyball is a wonderful medium to teach life lessons like perseverance, leadership and resilience,” Hampton said.

Having spent more than half of his Army career with U.S. Army Recruiting Command, Hampton was no stranger to encouraging others to be all that they could be. Following his retirement, John Hardin High School had a job posting for a coach and Hampton said the timing and reasoning couldn’t have been more perfect.

“I love the sport and I believe it’s a great way to give back to the community,” Hampton said. “When my [daughter’s] alma mater had an opening, I applied and was blessed with this opportunity.”

After watching his daughter on the volleyball court at JHHS, Hampton moved into the role as the school’s team coach, and then also a coach for the Elizabethtown Volleyball Academy. For Hampton, coaching is about much more than just helping the girls improve their skills.

"I believe in nurturing not just their athletic abilities,” Hampton said, “but also their character."

In the nearly nine years since Hampton began coaching, those he has coached and worked with say he’s had a profound effect on them. One former player said his influence even pushed her to follow in his footsteps.

“I’ve become an assistant coach for the same club I played for under Hampton,” Madyson Hunley said. “I’m able to see firsthand how above and beyond he goes for his teams.”

Hunley, like many of Hampton’s former players, said he was much more than just their coach. “Not only does he want you to succeed as a volleyball player, but he also wants you to succeed as person in life, too,” Hunley said.

Another former player, Breanna Davis, said Hampton was her coach from sixth grade through her senior year in high school. Davis said Hampton supported her through many stages of her life.

“No matter the circumstance, he always took time to listen to me – even if it was something little,” Davis said. “He always pushed me to become the best player and person I could be, even after I graduated.

“Having him as a coach was the highlight of my volleyball career.”

In his roles both as a coach and at Recruiting and Retention College, Hampton said he is able to demonstrate his combined passions for education and athletics and serve students from many different backgrounds, whether they’re wearing an Army or volleyball uniform. Hampton said his personal motto applies greatly to both realms: “Hard work, hustle and heart.”



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