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Football Empowers Veteran

by Chris M.

David Pickens is a native of Fayetteville, North Carolina, where he graduated from Reid Ross Senior High School. There he played football and was a two-time all-conference defensive lineman. He was also a member of ROTC and marched in the "Cumberland Rifles" drill team. He spent his first year of college at Fayetteville State University playing football before transferring to North Carolina A&T State University. While at A&T he participated in ROTC, the "Aggie Rifles" drill team, and joined the U.S Army Reserves. He graduated from A&T with a bachelor's degree in public relations

David was mobilized three weeks out of college. He participated in Operation Desert Storm with the 312th Evac Hospital Unit out of Greensboro, North Carolina. His primary military job was transportation, and he also worked as a laundry and bath specialist supporting the mission. In 1993, after returning home. he moved to Maryland and eventually joined the 611th Quartermaster, an Army Reserve company from Baltimore.

He married Regina King, and they have two children, DJ and Jasmine. He rekindled his love for the game of football when his son began play. He coached his son's teams for two years, before being mobilized again--this time for Operation Iraqi Freedom. David served with the 332nd Eng (Dump Truck) unit from Kittanning, Pennsylvania. David suffered a back injury while on vehicle patrol and was honorably discharged from the Army. He is currently being treated for sleep apnea resulting from his service.

During this campaign he was approached by his soldiers and asked to be their coach in the battalion flag football league. He agreed and through his efforts the team won the battalion championship. Encouraged by his many of his peers, David returned home with a more serious approach towards football and coaching. Over the next few years, David coached many teams at youth, high school, and collegiate levels.

In 2008, David learned of the Baltimore Broncos--a one-year old, semi-pro team playing in the Regional Athletic Football League. He was intrigued to hear the story of how the Broncos managed to survive a season of financial difficulty, and yet had no coach. He took a position as volunteer head coach of the Broncos for the 2009 season.

David has been awarded a Mission Continues Fellowship that will allow him to continue his work as head coach of the Baltimore Broncos. In this role, he not only teaches the game of football, but also strengthens the lives of his player. This non-profit football team focuses on providing an outlet for underprivileged youth, through football. They also provide mentoring and a venue for players to gain athletic scholarships to college.

Coach Pickens spends nearly 60 hours over seven days each week mentoring and coaching in his community. David is completing this Fellowship is honor of Army First Lieutenant Colby Umbrell, who lost his life in Iraq in 2007.

David's Fellowship was made possible by support from the Travis Manion Foundation. The Mission Continues supports Coach Pickens by empowering veterans to contribute to their home communities when they return from a tour of duty. Please visit their site to learn more about this innovative organization.

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