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NEWS | Feb. 23, 2016

Army Reserve soldier takes on semi-pro basketball and mentors youths

By Spc. David Lietz 85th Support Command

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – A few things that you first notice about Sgt. 1st  Class Terence D. Barron are his smile, positive attitude and warm, caring personality. 

These are a few qualities that he brings to his full-time job as a soldier, in his personal life, and as a mentor to young athletes in the Chicago area.

The 14-year Army veteran and Alabama native is the new plans and operations noncommissioned officer for the Army Reserve’s 85th Support Command.

He has served as a 42-Alpha (Human Resource Specialist) since enlisting in the Army, in 2002.

“That’s what I’ve been doing. I like what I do,” said Barron.

The Army was not initially a part of Barron’s plan, but after working with a recruiter who made a deal with him, Barron’s plans took an unforeseen direction.

“I was young and had misplaced my driver’s license so she (recruiter) offered to buy (a replacement) driver’s license if I took the ASVAB (Armed Service Vocational Aptitude Battery) test,” explained Barron. “I said ‘If I pass it I will join’ I ended up passing it and joined the Army. I’m a man of my word and that’s why I’m here today, but I have no regrets.”

When he is not serving as a full-time (active/guard reserve) soldier, Barron, who is 6 feet 5 inches tall, plays for the American Basketball Association’s Chicago Steam, a semi-professional basketball team based in Chicago. 

“They have me playing small forward and power forward,” said Barron. “I’ve been playing ball all of my life. That’s what I’ve been doing as a hobby. As soon as I moved up here (to Illinois) I had a chance to try out for a team at the semi-pro level, and I ended up making the cut. It means a lot to me and makes me feel good because I didn’t know if I had what it takes to make it on a semi-pro team.”

The Chicago Steam plays locally and across the Midwest. One of their most recent away games was in Jacksonville, Florida, but Barron was not able to participate because the dates were during his battle assembly weekend training.

However, the team is scheduled for an upcoming 10-day tour to China to play basketball there, and Barron is scheduled to participate with the team. 

It’s such an elevated experience,” said Barron. “I’ve never been to China and I’m going to be playing with a semi-pro team. It’s just amazing.”

In addition to playing with the Chicago Steam, Barron also finds time to coach and mentor youths in basketball. Mentoring is something that he has enjoyed since his early days living in Alabama. 

“I just like helping kids. I don’t have any (children) but I do like coaching them and teaching them,” he said. 

“Since being here in Illinois, they’re like my little brothers. Every time they see me they give me a hug.”  

Currently, he coaches the Hoopers which is a traveling Amateur Athletic Union youth basketball team comprised of high school players ranging from 15 to 17 years old. 

“They are out of Chicago and in the suburbs like Bolingbrook, Lombard, Plainfield and Romeoville. I coach all-year round,” he said.

Serving in the Army Reserve, Barron maintains a strong sense of duty to his community and also to his country. 

Barron has deployed twice overseas. His first time he was assigned to the 787th Engineer Battalion, based in Dothan, Alabama, that deployed to Camp Doha, Qatar.

“I was 20 or 21-years old and it was my first deployment, so I was a little nervous,” he said.

He served on a second deployment with the 926th Engineer Brigade, based in Montgomery, Alabama, that deployed to Baghdad, Iraq where he served as an HR specialist. While deployed, he also went out on routine convoys and operations and he found time to play basketball during down-time there.

“I was there a year, and they had this ‘Hoops for Troop’s event going on. We played for a division one college coach,” said Barron. “I remember our coach to this day, Coach Wainwright, who at the time was the head basketball coach at DePaul University.” 

His long-term military goals include retiring from the Army at the top of the rank structure.

“I would like to retire as a sergeant major. If I stay in long enough, I’ll retire young. That’s my plan,” said Barron. 

When asked what advice he would give a new soldier joining the Army, Barron shared just what he has always done. 

“My opinion is if you want it, go get it. Strive for it. If you put your mind to do anything, you can do anything,” said Barron. “The way I look at it is the only thing in front of you is opportunity. Take advantage of the opportunity and go get it.”