News: Ironhorse soldier uses Army skills to train young football stars
Story by Sgt. Bailey Kramer
FORT HOOD, Texas – “Hut … Hut … Hike!”
To some people, hearing these words means another NFL Sunday night football game, but these words mean so much more to one Ironhorse soldier.
Sgt. 1st Class Ethan Braud, a transportation coordinator assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Troop “Hammer” of the 1st “Ironhorse” Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division here, is the head coach of the Fort Hood Warriors.
The Warriors are not a Fort Hood team but were founded by a soldier who was stationed at the installation. Braud said although the majority of the 22 players are military family members, the only connection between the team and Fort Hood is the name.
Since 2011, Braud has coached the Warriors, a Pop Warner Little Scholars, Inc. football team, for two reasons. His 10-year-old son is a Warrior and the chance to influence young children.
“Being a football coach at that age, nine times out of 10, I will be somewhat of a foundation for the choices they make in the future,” Braud said about coaching athletes ages 9 to 11.
Staff Sgt. Eric Warner, a Reserve drill sergeant for the 2nd Battalion, 354th Regiment of the 95th Training Division in Waco, Texas, also thinks Braun is a valuable influence on the kids.
“He is a great coach,” said Warner, a Dover, Ohio, native. “The kids respond to him as a father figure and are real receptive of him.”
Warner believes Braud’s relationship with the kids has been a main contributor to their 6-2 win-loss record, a successful season thus far.
“They have our heart, and we have their heart,” Warner added.
Although coaching football or joining the Army wasn’t in his plan, he’s happy with his decision.
Joining the Army right out of high school wasn’t Braud’s original plan, but due to family circumstances he had to make a choice.
“My plan was to go to college straight out of high school,” said Braud, a native of New Orleans. “My wife ended up getting pregnant with our first kid, so I had to make a choice … that was a big decision maker for joining the Army.”
Skills he has acquired during his military career have transferred over to his coaching style.
“The biggest one is being a motivator,” Braud said, adding that many of the players are shy, and it can take awhile for them to come out of their shell. “Me, putting them in a position to where I let them know they can be comfortable being who they are … expressing themselves verbally or through their actions and not being afraid to do so is probably the biggest leadership skill I use on the field.”
Warner agreed that Braud’s Army leadership style is transferred into his coaching style, and it is noticeable.
“All the coaches learn from that,” Warner added.
In addition to his military experience, Braud has incorporated self-taught lessons as a coach into his Army career.
“[Coaching] makes me a better leader,” Braud said. “Being around kids at a young age and noticing how each kid has a different personality helps me as a soldier, because it makes me realize adults are the same way. Each soldier won’t be the same.”
Braud compares techniques used to keep players motivated on the field to those used to motivate his soldiers.
“Things I would have to do to get a soldier to perform at their top level won’t be the same thing I would have to do for another to perform at their top level,” Braud said. “And I kind of compare that to my kids.”
Braud isn’t only coaching to teach them about football but hopes to leave a deeper impression on his players.
“Whatever you want to be in life and whatever you want to do in life, don’t let anything hinder your ability to accomplish that,” Braud said.
When Braud retires, he doesn’t plan on leaving the coaching scene.
“I had a joke while I was recruiting, that when I get out [of the Army] all I want to do is put stickers on people when they come in Wal-Mart,” Braud laughed, adding that after coaching, his primary focus will either be coaching a football organization or starting a business focusing on helping young children advance in their athletic abilities.