COPPERAS COVE, Texas — Part of military service is understanding what it means to work as a team to accomplish a mission.
This is something Rudy De Los Santos — proud U.S. Army veteran and coach of the Copperas Cove Junior High eighth grade boy's soccer team — brought to civilian life.
Though he serves the kids in Central Texas now, Copperas Cove wasn’t always home for him.
”I’m originally from, well, I grew up in Houston and the Corpus Christi area,” De Los Santos said.
“Sinton to be exact. That’s where I spent most of my life at before joining the service.”
After graduating from high school, he immediately took an oath to serve his country in the Army and spent a year and half in the reserves before moving to active duty.
”Then I got sent straight to Korea and then I came straight here to Fort Hood and never left and just deployed from here,” De Los Santos said.
“I was a part of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Spartan Shield. I spent about 10 years before I was discharged, medically discharged.”
Now he takes his love of soccer and his call to serve and puts them both to use on the field — using what he learned in the Army to lead the Copperas Cove Bullpups to a season with only one loss this year.
”Hard work and honesty is what it takes to be a great teammate — it’s all things that we did in the military,” De Los Santos said.
“You wake up, you go straight to work, you learn how to become a great teammate, you're only as strong as the person next to you. It’s whatever values I learned in the military, I brought here and it’s starting to reflect.”
There's no greater proof than Joseph Cruz, a young man that went from barely understanding the game to team captain for the Bullpups.
”He’s a great coach,” Cruz said.
“He’s taught us a lot. Not just me, my teammates too."
With that, he has a message from the team to their coach before they head off to high school in the Fall.
”Just, thank you,” Cruz said.
“Me and my team have worked hard, and I feel like you contributed to a lot of that. I just wish we could win some more games with you and start up something in the future.”