Soldiers To Sidelines is proud to recognize the incredible work of Thomas “Pat” Payne and his commitment to continue to serve his country as a coach. For the past two years, Coach Payne has been coaching youth football in Lee County and Moore County, North Carolina. Pat received the Medal of Honor in 2020 for his heroic action during a nighttime hostage rescue in Kirkuk Province, Iraq, in 2015 in support of Operation INHERENT RESOLVE. The virtues of selfless service, bravery, teamwork, and integrity that make up Coach Payne’s DNA influenced him to make an incredibly heroic impact on people whom he has never met. He is now imbuing these same virtues in the youth football players he coaches. Although these young kids may not fully understand the magnitude of Coach Payne’s military career, they clearly feel his impact on them as they grow into the future courageous leaders of our country. This is the epitome of ‘paying it forward’ and this is why he is clearly an iconic Soldier Coach.

In addition to this Soldier Coach of the Month honor, Soldiers To Sidelines is presenting Coach Payne with the 2024 Military Legacy of Leadership Ring as the Military Leadership Honoree at the Soldiers To Sidelines Legacy of Leadership Dinner. He is being honored alongside coaching legend Tom Coughlin, 2x Superbowl Champion of the NY Giants, and Business Leadership Honoree Tom Quinlan, CEO of RR Donnelley. Coach Payne and all our Soldier Coaches create a tremendous ripple effect of positive leadership every day they step on the practice field. Read below to learn how Coach Pat Payne began coaching and how his military career influences his coaching style.

STS: What is your coaching title?

Coach Payne: It’s an honor to be called Coach Payne, but the best title in coaching is when a young man says, “That’s My Coach!”

STS: How long have you been coaching?

Coach Payne: 2 years

STS: Tell your story about how and why you got into coaching. Discuss how coaching has impacted you as a person.

Coach Payne: Initially, my wife and I didn’t agree with youth football. However, my son’s interest in tackle football led him to attend a local camp at Lee County Senior High School in North Carolina. After the camp, he ran up to me and said, “Dad, I don’t like football; I love it!” The high school players had done an amazing job with the youth camp, and this marked the beginning of a new chapter for our family. Football brought us closer together while also teaching us more about our local community.

We have an amazing leader in Lee County, NC, Coach Hill, who also serves as a Police Officer and is one of our youth football coaches. After a practice, he asked if I was interested in coaching, and that’s how my coaching journey began. The next day at work was awesome.

The United States Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) is filled with some amazing ex-athletes from all levels. My downtime was filled with making playbooks & practice plans. On top of the athletic experience in USASOC, the community around Ft. Liberty, NC, is filled with some amazing high school athletes (in all sports) and coaches that fly under the radar. Coach Metzger from Montgomery Central High School has been one of my mentors.

STS: How has your military experience influenced you as a coach?

Coach Payne: It comes full circle. Some of my best coaches were Vietnam veterans. They were tough on us growing up and made us better men.

Now I have former teammates who coach almost every sport in the area. Coaching is another way of service to make an impact on the next generation.

STS: What does Soldiers To Sidelines mean to you?

Coach Payne: It’s a great network of coaches who understand service to our great country and can continue with coaching.