Three soldiers, selected as the athletes and coach of the year for 2009, were honored and recognized at the Association of the United States Army’s Winter Symposium and Exposition in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Capt. Matthew Cavanaugh, a competitive runner from Fort Myer, Va., who is an Army strategist assigned to the Army Readiness Division in the Operations, Readiness and Mobilizations Directorate, G-3/5/7, Department of the Army, was recognized as the male athlete of the year.
Capt. Emily Potter, also a competitive runner, is a public affairs officer assigned to the 1st Sustainment Command (Theater), Fort Bragg, N.C., was honored as the female athlete of the year.
Sgt. Maj. Ryan Dean, the MWR bowling program manager at Fort Meade, Md., and a bowling coach, received the award for being the coach of the year.
The three soldier-athletes were presented their awards Feb. 25 by Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody, commanding general, U.S. Army Materiel Command; Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, commanding general, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command; and Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, USA, Ret., AUSA president.
Cavanaugh, a West Point graduate, is an All Army Athlete who has been selected many times to compete on an Armed Forces Team.
In 2009, he competed in the USA Men’s Cross Country National Championship and was the top Army finisher.
He was also selected as an All-Army Marathoner at the Armed Forces Championship where he placed fourth among all Army runners and 26th overall.
Soldier-athletes are honored at AUSA Winter Symposium by Army and Association leaders. From left to right: Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody, commander, U.S. Army Materiel Command; Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, commander, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command; Sgt. Maj. Ryan Dean, USA, Ret., 2009 coach of the year; Capt. Emily Potter, 2009 female athlete of the year; Capt. Matthew Cavanaugh, 2009 male athlete of the year, and Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, USA, Ret., AUSA president.
Cavanaugh, who saw his fellow soldiers experience severe wounds in combat while in Iraq, co-founded the "Team Wounded Warrior Project" with Air Force veteran Tom Cocchiarella.
A non-profit organization dedicated to empowering the most severely wounded veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, this patriotic project has received national attention.
Cavanaugh has pledged to run 250 miles of endurance, trail, and ultra-distance races to support this project.
His running challenges ranged in distances from 1 mile to 50 miles and up to 113 miles.
As a result, the "Team Wounded Warrior Project" has raised approximately $42,000 on behalf of our wounded veterans.
Cavanaugh speaks regularly to groups of military officers and noncommissioned officers, civic organizations, fellow athletes and runners about this project, and he was highlighted on National Public Radio as a well as at events the Team Wounded Warrior Project has sponsored.
"His dedication to our wounded warriors and his dynamic athleticism have made him an outstanding soldier-athlete," Sullivan said in reading the citation.
Emily Potter, also a West Point graduate who has been deployed to Iraq, is a competitive runner.
An All Army Athlete, Potter has been selected on numerous occasions as an Armed Forces Team member.
In 2009, she was the top Army women finisher and the top Armed Forces finisher at the 25th Annual Army Ten-Miler.
She ran the Army’s race in 59 minutes, 45 seconds – a pace of 5 minutes, 58 seconds.
As a member of the All Army Marathon Team, Potter was the top Army women’s finisher and the top armed forces finisher.
As a member of the Armed Forces Counseil International Militaire (CISM) Team, she was the top Armed Forces women’s finisher and 5th overall at the CISM Championship.
In addition, in 2008, Potter was the United States Association Track and Field Marathon National Champion.
She also competed at the Women’s Marathon Olympic Trials and was the only Armed Forces qualifier.
In 2007 Potter fractured three bones in her back while qualifying for the Olympics in Modern Pentathlon, but she worked extremely hard and by the end of the year was able to run and qualify for an Olympic Trial.
"Her selections to upper level competitions representing the United States Army and the armed forces make her an outstanding soldier and great athlete," Sullivan said.
Ryan, the MWR bowling program manager at Fort Meade has been involved with bowling for over 10 years.
As a coach, he has made major contributions to the Army, his soldier athletes and his sport as the All Army Bowling Coach for the All Army and armed forces bowling programs.
As the All Army Coach he has continued the "Army Gold" tradition at the Armed Forces Championship where he returned the Army Gold in 2009 by winning five out of six events at the Armed Forces Championship.
As a result of his athletic abilities, in 2009 Ryan was named the Armed Forces Bowling Coach for the 6th consecutive year.
His selections to upper level competitions as an Armed Forces Coach testify to his hard work and dedication, Army officials said.
As the coach of the Armed Forces Team at the USA Team – USA National Championship, his coaching ability resulted in numerous Team USA service athlete’s selections.
He was also instrumental in assisting the outstanding soldier-athletes who played on the Army and armed forces teams.
As a Silver-Level rated coach, his willingness to assist all athletes has had a tremendous impact on many Army athletes and our sister service athletes worldwide who rely on Ryan for his expertise and coaching talent.
"His dedication and hard work as a noncommissioned officer and the example he has set while mentoring soldier-athletes is a truly outstanding example of the best of our Army’s NCO Corps and a soldier who is ‘Still Serving,’" Sullivan said.
"These three outstanding soldier-athletes," Sullivan added, "represent the best of America’s Army as they serve in their assigned duties and also compete in athletic competitions for our Army and our nation. We are very proud of you."