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Airman pursues dream of becoming first D-1 coach

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE -- A technical sergeant who retired in 2003 from Luke Air Force Base is pursuing his dream of becoming the first 20-year Air Force veteran to be a division 1 National Collegiate Athletic Association basketball coach.

Retired Tech. Sgt. David Grace, Oregon State University men's basketball assistant coach, began his coaching career in 1997 while he was stationed at Langley AFB, Va.

He started coaching in an amateur athletic union program called the Boo Williams Summer League.

"I played basketball my whole life," Grace said. "After taking the AAU coaching job I fell in love with it and have been doing it ever since."

After leaving Langley, Grace was stationed at Luke and coached two AAU teams and then became an assistant coach at Trevor Brown High School in Phoenix while still in the Air Force.

Upon retiring from Luke Grace was hired as the boys head basketball coach at South Mountain High School in Phoenix.

"When I took over the program, they had a record of 4-17," he said. "Two years later my team won a state championship with a record of 29-4."

Over the next two years Grace coached at Sacramento State University and the University of San Francisco before taking his current job as an assistant coach job at Oregon State University.

Grace feels that working as a fuels specialist and human relations specialist in the Air Force have helped him grow and become prepared to be a college basketball coach.

"I was fortunate to work in both fields. I am able to use the supervising skills I gained while working in fuels and human relations training helped prepare me to mentor student athletes in a positive way," he said.

Grace is still supported by those who surrounded him at Luke.

"I've been very proud of him seeing the progress he's made from the time he began here as an assistant coach at a high school to becoming an assistant coach at OSU," said Ronald Goodwyn, 56th Fighter Wing equal opportunity director. "He has taken the Air Force core values and tied them into his coaching to prepare the athletes to be successful even after their life in basketball."

While being an assistant coach at OSU, Grace is currently trying to become the next head coach at Northern Arizona University.

"It would mean so much to me if I became the first division 1 head coach," he said. "I hope my experience will inspire others with the same valuable skills they gained in the military to go out and shoot for their dreams."