Impacting the youth through Air Force opportunities

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Katie McKee
  • 82nd Training Wing Public Affairs

A friendship that started in Pine Bluff, Ark., has evolved into two Airmen impacting Sheppard youth through volunteering as football and basketball coaches here. 

Senior Airman Jabin Gulley, assigned to the 82d Medical Group, and Airman 1st Class Calvin Collins, 82d Communications Squadron, have been volunteering as football and basketball coaches for almost two years. While both of them have a passion for sports, they have different reasons for wanting to be involved.

Collins was recognized by Brig. Gen. Lyle Drew as an Outstanding Performer because of his efforts in making a difference. “I feel like a lot of my role models and coaches instilled a good footprint in my life, and I want to do the same for them,” said Collins. “I want to leave that impact.”

“My passion is being around kids and seeing them take joy in the things I took joy in whenever I was younger,” said Gulley. “It brings me joy, honestly. I started out in pediatrics at the medical group, but now I’m in immunizations so I see a lot of the kids before I ever coach them.”

Both Airmen agreed they enjoy the opportunity to promote health and fitness as well as sportsmanship to their 10-12 year-old football team and 11-12 year-old basketball team.

“They’re at school eight hours a day just like we’re at work,” said Collins. “If they can come out and physically work for the hour that we have them, then we can show up for them.”

They ensure the players stay physically fit by doing push-ups and other activities to help them build a solid foundation and have a positive outlook on health and fitness. However, they don’t overlook the kids’ education. 

Before every practice and every game, Collins and Gulley ask each player what they learned in school. They want to teach them that school is more important than sports because a bad grade can stop them from participating in extracurricular activities.

While this friendship started many years ago as athletes themselves, they’ve taken the opportunity as leaders to make a difference in the next generation.