Retired four-star Army Gen. Ray Odierno has been chosen to chair USA Football, the nation’s governing body for high school football.
Odierno is himself a former sports aficionado who played football as a student athlete at West Point before moving on to a 40-year-long career in the military and serving in Germany, Albania, Kuwait and Iraq. He also served as chief of staff of the Army from 2011 and retired finally in 2015.
“I’m honored to be named USA Football Chairman,” Odierno said in a statement. “Carl has given so much to the sport of football, and I look forward to continuing his work as chairman and joining the leaders on USA Football’s Board of Directors to push football forward.”
USA Football is a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee and has educated countless thousands of youth and high school football coaches. In 2016 alone, 140,000 youth and high school coaches passed a level 1 coaching certification offered by USA Football.
While chairman, Odierno will counsel the development of safety standards and also preside over the distribution of $2 million in grants.
The National Football Foundation gave Odierno the award of Distinguished American in 2013. During his speech, Odierno said he wouldn’t be where he is today without college football, as he was recruited by Tom Cahill, the head coach of the U.S. Military Academy in 1971.
“[F]ootball helps develop future leaders, not just for the military but for our society,” Odierno said.
Odierno isn’t the only retired general to move into the field of sports after his military career. Retired Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, left the military in 2015 and accepted the position of special adviser to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.
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