Army values lead former L. C. Bird football player to new career

By Natalie Skelton
Beckley Recruiter Batallion

Watching a child grow into an adult, and knowing you were a part of his success, is a great gift for any parent.  That gift is just as meaningful to a former mentor, teacher, or a high school football coach, who also just so happens to be an Army Recruiter.

For 1st Sgt. Scott D. Geise, who is now First Sergeant of the Army Recruiting Command’s  HHC (Headquarters Company) at Fort Knox, Ky., seeing one of his former high school football players make good, makes the time he spent coaching those students all worth the effort.

Kevin J. Grayson, the former L. C. Bird High School athlete/student, used that guidance to help him earn his place as a star player at the University of Richmond along with earning the title as the Super Bowl MVP during his time in the European Football League.  But his greatest achievement, so far, was highlighted on March 13, when he brought his experience as a leader and team player to the United States Army, becoming a new Soldier during an enlistment ceremony at the Fort Lee Military Entrance and Processing Station (MEPS) with his parents by his side.

But the Army was no mystery to Grayson.  As the son of two Soldiers and the younger brother of an Army MP (military police officer), plus with the addition of Geise’s guidance in his life, the young prospect had a number of positive military role models on which he could rely during his formative years.

“He [Geise] always had this sternness to him, but he carried himself like an Army Soldier – He lived his values,” Grayson said.  “The Army values are what had the biggest impact on me.  My college fraternity followed the Army Core Values.  Among the values that he taught me, loyalty was number one.  My duty was to win – but the one that stands out and meant the most to me was respect.”    

The leadership qualities that Grayson possesses on the field have also been displayed in the public eye, when he recently lent his support to and shared his personal story to fellow athletes who have chosen to make their personal lives public, in order to encourage awareness and acceptance of the many men and women playing in professional sports today.

At 25 years old, the youngest of three siblings, he reflects the Army values to his parents as much as to his teammates and coach.  Grayson’s father, Melvin, is a 23-year veteran of the Army; and his mother, Tanya, served for 21 years.  Grayson’s experience as a military dependent was put in the national spotlight in 2002, when the network show “Good Morning America” produced a segment on him and his family, telling the story about both parents being deployed during a volatile period of the war in Iraq.

Melvin Grayson recalled that that was a tense time of not knowing anything about his wife’s condition or safety in those days, which he says likely helped shape his son’s approach to adversity.  The elder Grayson said he and his wife believe that their son’s time in sports will be a strong contributor to his success as a soldier.

“Kevin has the skill set to excel in the Army,” Melvin said.  “His sports and most all of his family have prepared him to be a team player and a leader – whether it’s on the playing field or the battlefield.  He was a captain on the football team, and the way he motivated players, he can do the same in the military.”

The new Army enlistee said he hopes to eventually attend Officer Candidate School.  “I would like to be a leader of soldiers eventually,” Grayson said, “once I’ve earned my place and gained experience as an enlisted Soldier.”

But there was more than just a chance according to Geise.  He recalled that Grayson was only a freshman, but suddenly he became the player on whose shoulders the victory rested.  He snatched the ball from the air with one hand and fell into the end zone, scoring the winning touchdown.

“He walked off that field,” Geise said, “came over to me and said, ‘I told you, Coach, I got that.’ That is the type of leader the Army is getting—selfless and always willing to put the mission first.”

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