MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE BARSTOW, Calif. - Marines are always Marines first; however, some take on more responsibilities and challenges during their off-duty hours.
Corporal Anthony Lewis, an ammo technician on Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, Calif., is one of these Marines. When he is not in uniform, Lewis can be found mentoring and coaching 8 to 10-year-olds on the football field.
For the past two years, Lewis has been a volunteer coach for the Barstow Aztecs, a team with the High Desert Youth Football league.
“While I was growing up, I had a lot of coaches who made a big impact on me,” said the Yonkers, New York, native. “I wanted to make the same impact on the youth here.”
Lewis explained he played football through high school and has always loved the sport. When he noticed local children playing organized football he immediately wanted to get involved and share his own experiences of the game.
“I passed by their practice one day and wanted to see what it was about,” Lewis explained. “I asked if they needed any extra help with coaching and was offered a spot.”
The team practices every day in the summer time, Lewis said. When school starts, they practice three times a week and play games on Saturdays.
“I love game days,” he added. “You get to see all the hard work the team did during practices come out on the field (during the game).”
Lewis further explained coaching youth football has become very important to him. He is always looking forward to working with the children and watching them perform on game day.
“It’s great to see how the kids develop from the beginning of the season to the end,” Lewis said. “A lot of them have never played football before and come in shy. Toward the end of the season, you see them make friends, become comfortable with the sport and begin to strive to become better.”
Chris Hancock, the Barstow Aztec’s head coach and a deputy sheriff for the San Bernardino County Police Department, explained he thoroughly enjoys coaching with Lewis.
“It’s awesome to coach with someone who is so motivated all the time,” Hancock said. “He keeps the kids excited to play the game.”
Lewis remains calm and laid-back while he coaches, Hancock added. He makes it easy for the kids to talk to him and ask him questions.
“I’m a little tougher on the kids so it makes a great combination,” he explained. “It has been working great for the past two years we have been coaching together.”
Hancock further explained how beneficial Lewis is to the team. The first game of the season was against Apple Valley, on Aug. 24. The team won 53 to 0.
“It’s great how often Anthony (Lewis) is able to come out. He is a Marine first and has his duties … but he makes as much time for the team as possible,” Hancock explained. “It’s outstanding to see someone take the time out of their day to volunteer and help kids in the community of Barstow; especially considering it’s not his hometown.”
Lewis added he will look for future coaching opportunities once he leaves Barstow. He encourages other Marines to find ways to give back to local communities while doing something they love.
“A lot of Marines love sports … and at the end of the day you’re helping someone else learn something they could develop a passion for … it’s a win-win, concluded Lewis.”