Athletes, coach of the year honored at AUSA Global Force symposium

Friday, May 29, 2015

Three soldiers, selected as the athletes and coach of the year for 2014, were honored and recognized at the Association of the United States Army Global Force Symposium and Exposition in Huntsville, Ala.

Maj. Brian Hayes, a competitive runner who served two tours in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom – first with the 4th Infantry Division and later with a Military Transition Team as an intelligence adviser to the Iraqi army – was recognized as the 2014 Army Male Athlete of the Year.

He is now the executive officer, 305th Military Intelligence Battalion, Fort Huachuca, Ariz.

Captain Jamie Pecha, a star volleyball player, who deployed to Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom as a preventive medicine officer for the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, was honored as the 2014 Female Athlete of the Year.

She currently serves as the environmental science and engineering officer with Company A, Womack Army Medical Center, Fort Bragg, N.C.

Lt. Col. Nathaniel Johnson, a woman’s basketball ball coach who deployed in support of Operation Intrinsic Action Kuwait and also to Afghanistan as an operations officer for the Rapid Equipping Force in support of the 82nd Airborne and 101st Airborne divisions, received the award for being selected as the 2014 Army Coach of the Year.

He is now the chief of officer education, Directorate of Training Development and Doctrine at Fort Sill, Okla.

The three soldier-athletes were presented their awards by the Army chief of staff, Gen. Ray Odierno; Gen. David Perkins, commanding general, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command; and Gen. Dennis Via, commanding general, U.S. Army Materiel Command.

Hayes ran 23 races in 2014 to include: the Fort Huachuca Commander’s Cup Cross Country; the Combat Medic 10K; the Army Ten-Miler; the Tucson Half Marathon; the MWR Steelhead Triathlon; the Thunder Mountain Running Club Half Marathon; the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon; and 12 more competitions where he finished in either first or second place overall.

He has run five marathons and a 50K ultra-marathon, and he is a two-time Ironman Triathlete.

He also coached the Fort Huachuca Army Ten-Miler teams, and was a volunteer race director for the Colonel Johnson Elementary School 10K, 5K, and 1 mile Family Run that raised funds to improve students’ educational experiences.

Pescha is a three-time captain of the All-Army Volleyball Team with a 14-0 record against the other services.

In 2014, the All-Army team competed at the USA Volleyball Women’s Open National Championships, received the Gold Medal as the Armed Forces Champion and was named the Division "A" National Champion with a record of 9-1.

Pecha was named the Division "A" Most Valuable Player at this event.

She also helped coached the Fort Bragg Youth Volleyball League’s eight-year-old-team to an undefeated championship.

She is a graduate of the Fort Bragg Air Assault School – graduating with the second highest academic score in her class.

Johnson was the head coach of the Armed Forces Women’s Basketball Team that won the Silver Medal in the International Military Sports Council competition, and the All-Army Woman’s Basketball Team that won the Gold Medal in the Armed Force Championship with a perfect 7-0 record.

As a result of his coaching abilities, three of his players on the All-Army team were selected for the All-Tournament Team and five were chosen for a position the 2015 Armed Forces Women’s Basketball Team that that he will coach.

He is also the head coach of the Fort Sill Men’s Basketball Team, and he will have a basketball camp this year for high school students and soldiers that will strengthen the relationship between the military and civilian communities.

"These three outstanding soldier-athletes," Lt. Gen. Guy Swan, USA, Ret., AUSA vice president for education, said at the ceremony, "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."