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Recruiter Journal
Nashville Recruiters Combine Basketball & Values to
Reach Prospects
By Lee Elder, USAREC
Nashville Battalion
Dec. 21, 2015

The Nashville Recruiting Battalion, Kentucky Association of Basketball Coaches and the Kentucky High School Basketball Hall of Fame are teaming up to teach young men and women the importance of strong character values and making better life choices.

“Essence of the Game” is a partnership and season-long recruiting outreach effort designed to increase the Army’s presence in the state’s 290 high schools.

“Ultimately, this was a multi-phased event to focus and get our recruiters into the schools,” said Lt. Col. Robert Wagner, Nashville Battalion commander. “This was our number one focus for the year, and it hinged around character development with the men’s and women’s programs at each of the participating schools.”

There will be 25 “Army Game of the Week” contests at the state’s top schools where recruiters will take part in pre-game and halftime activities while manning tables in the lobby.

Many weeks will feature a double header, with both boys’ and girls’ games. Three weeks prior to each game, character development classes will be taught by recruiters at both of the competing schools.

The battalion is providing Army branded “Essence of the Game” black warm-up shirts to each team, which feature the program’s 10 character traits. Wagner said these traits go along with the Army’s seven core values, which recruiters will stress in their otherwise low-key sales approach.

“It’s not a hard line U.S. Army recruiting pitch,” Wagner said. “The Soldiers will use their own personal life stories to inspire young men and women to make wise life choices.”

The program has three phases: a character development program, Army-sponsored games in targeted schools and an end-of-season award presentation.

The goal of the “Essence of the Game” Character Development Program is to help students establish and reach career goals.

The program focuses on 10 character values: self-motivated, trustworthy, poised, coachable, unselfish, responsible, courageous, disciplined, determined, and encouraging. It also includes the Army Values: duty, integrity, selfless service, honor, loyalty, personal courage, and respect to help demonstrate how these values play a vital role in the instructors’ lives.

Games will only be played at the state’s top producing schools, but the character development program will be offered to all schools.

Each school will select an “Ultimate Teammate” from both its men’s and women’s teams at the end of the season. Recruiters will present awards to the players at the end-of-season banquet. A plaque recognizing the players’ accomplishments will be placed on an Army-branded wall at the Kentucky High School Basketball Hall of Fame, currently under construction in Elizabethtown.

Five of Nashville Battalion’s seven companies are in Kentucky. Seventeen centers will be participating in these events.

One of the initial events was conducted at the LaGrange Army Recruiting Center. Center Leader Staff Sgt. Curtis Hissong said the event was successful.

“Overall, it was really good,” Hissong said. “It was good interaction and the coaches enjoyed the character development aspect. It caught their minds more than anything.”

Hissong said he has received nothing but positive feedback from the coaches for the game that pitted Martha Layne Collins High School against Gallatin High. He was also able to garner high quality, senior leads.

“They loved how the event went,” Hissong said. “They thought it was a great thing and enjoyed the partnership.”

Through the program recruiters will directly engage 2,000 - 3,000 students through classes and game related activities. Wagner expects many more students will be reached indirectly.


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