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Posted: May 19, 2017 9:38 a.m.
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3rd ID revives basketball with conference wins

Photo by Staff Sgt. Candace Mundt/

Spc. Janay Townsel, shooting guard, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Aaron Bryant, coach, and Sgt. Mark Christmas, conference “Most Valuable Player,” pose with trophies of the conference wins for the men’s and women’s 2017 3rd Infantry Division basketball teams. After 10 years without a 3rd ID basketball team, Bryant built two this year and led them to a first place conference win for the men and second place conference win for the women.

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The 3rd Infantry Division has not had a basketball team in 10 years, so Chief Warrant Officer 3 Aaron L. Bryant built one. After coaching teams from Camp Casey, Korea and Fort Knox, Kentucky, as well as the All-Army Women’s team, Bryant was determined to bring the intramural sport to Fort Stewart to engage the community and Soldiers.

 At the end of the season, 3rd ID were victorious. The men’s team finished first and the women’s team finished second at the Southeastern Military Athletic Conference  “[Having a] post basketball teams gives 3rd Infantry Division Soldiers an outlet,” Bryant said. “It motivates them to work hard so they can play.”

Bryant started the men’s basketball team at the end of 2016 and established the women’s team at the beginning of 2017. In lieu of these teams in the past, Soldiers regularly ran scrimmages and participated in community leagues.

Leaders were thrilled to see Soldiers maintain their discipline and workload, both on and off the court, said Bryant. He believes this is what led to a successful season.

“Mission still comes first,” said 1st Lt. Michelle Ambuul, former deputy officer in charge of supply for Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 385th Military Police Battalion, 16th Military Police Brigade, and shooting guard on the women’s team. “Soldiers had a lot of work to do for their units towards the end of the season and that was the hardest part.”

Ambuul said she found success in being a Soldier first instead of a player.

One challenge Soldiers faced was a vast range in experience levels. Bryant believes that his methods helped mold the players into a solid threat on the court.

"We had a lot of players playing out of their comfort zone, but we wanted to win so they did what it took to win,” said Sgt. Mark Christmas, petroleum supply specialist with 87th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division Sustainment Brigade.

The Army’s physical fitness and combat training develops the physical requirements a player would need to be a tactical athlete.

“This program has been an opportunity to bring together different people who don’t normally work together on a daily basis,” Christmas said.

Bryant’s leadership and ability to forge a strong and competitive team won him the title of SEMAC “Coach of the Year.”
“I feel humbled and proud to have been a part of building the intramural men’s and women’s basketball program at Fort Stewart, and coach so many different Soldiers,” Bryant said.

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