Roger Wright-Lester Earns the Soldier Coach of the Month Honor for October 2023
Soldiers To Sidelines is proud to honor U.S. Army Veteran Roger Wright-Lester as the Soldier Coach of the Month October 2023 for his passion, his perseverance, and commitment to coaching mastery. Roger is a football coach, a strength and conditioning coach, a husband, and a father of six. He has found a way to overcome unimaginable obstacles in pursuit of his passion to serve others. There is nothing else to say; you simply need to hear from him. Read below and enjoy!
STS: How long have you been coaching?
Coach Wright-Lester: 1 year Coaching Strength and Conditioning intern for the Army World Class Athlete Program (WCAP). 9 Years as an Elite Trainer for Camp Gladiator. 1 Year College Football Manager at the (UTSA) University of Texas at San Antonio and 1st year High School Football Coach.
STS: Tell your story about how and why you go into coaching. Discuss how coaching has impacted you as a person.
Coach Wright-Lester: I appreciate everyone that is about to read my journey. I have played sports since I was 4 years old. I received a Football Scholarship to play at NCAA D-2 Oklahoma Panhandle State University, which was short-lived as I joined the US. Army. In August 2012 just outside Fort Carson, I almost lost my life to a kid who fell asleep behind the wheel and hit head on! I had to undergo a year and a half of rehab. While I was going through the process, I noticed this building I ran by every day, the Army World Class Athletic program (WCAP). I decided to walk in and ask what was (WCAP). At the time Captain Jason Barber was accepting interns into the strength and conditioning program. I’ve decided to ask my leadership if I was able to train, rehab and coach there in the morning and be at the motor pool after lunch. It was a “YES”. I didn’t think it would work! My first athlete I worked with for a short time is now American Paralympic SFC Elizabeth Mark. I got to work with SGT Steven Nelson, now a professional boxer, as well as many other athletes. This really put a fire underneath me. I left active duty and enjoyed the reserves in San Antonio Texas. At this time, I was looking to get back into football or some type of training at the university level. I spent time with UTSA as a summer youth coach and then traveled with them to five different cities across Texas to run football camps in the summertime. I was very dedicated and my whole summer was working with the football team. I wanted a graduate assistant spot but there was no vacancy. So, Coach Larry Coker allowed me to come on as a football manager. I was working with the graduate assistants on breaking down film, building playbooks, unlocking the locker rooms and getting bagels at 0445! I got to work with Coach Jeff Popovich with the defensive backs who now coaches at Western Michigan. After a short while it had to come to an end quickly! My wife was giving birth to our second child of six and as a teacher she wanted to take time off. I was able to get my master’s degree in Kinesiology: Pedagogy. I had to make ends meet and find a job. It was hard to find a job in coaching in college or even high school at the time. I wanted to do something I enjoy. I did not want to sit down at a desk at all. I have to stay mobile, and I have to be around people that want to be great! So I was introduced to opening up my own bootcamp through Camp Gladiator and Cibolo, Texas. I became the Area Director of North East San Antonio. I was able to coach and train thousands of people. I am in my 9th year with them.
In my 7th year of CG, I was running a successful fitness business. In 2019, I decided to move my family of 8 to Atlanta, Georgia to launch CG as an Elite and Area Director. Things went downhill from there due to covid 2020! For two years I watched my business fall apart. I never gave up on coaching the people that were around me! In 2022 we decided to move to Tampa, Florida closer to family. My wife and I teach. I tried to apply for several coaching internships at USF, UCF, University of Miami with no response and several in Texas I was a “consideration” on applicant status before they were closed. So, my next thought was to move back to Texas to get my teachers certification and Coach High School football in San Antonio after talking to multiple coaches. We were well on our way as we moved 95% of our house to a storage unit in Texas. We couldn’t sell our house right away due to the high interest rate. So, we took our house off the market and decided to stay another year in Florida with all our stuff still sitting in the Texas storage unit. So we decided to leave it there and wait till next year. Having two mortgages and being a family of eight was not feasible.
Then I was introduced to Soldiers to Sidelines. After doing a little research on the organization I decided to do their Power Sports Performance Certification Seminar. I jumped on the first day and said this is where I need to be! Everyone understood me and I understood them! My passion is athletics. We all spoke the same language! After listening to Harrison Bernstein, Brady Nix and their goals and aspirations, I knew I was where I was supposed to be! I’ve gone right back into getting my football certification. This past summer I talked to the head coach McCaleb at Brandon High School and they brought me in as a strength and conditioning coach and a running back/special team coach for the football team. After being around this team for a month, they were very receptive of what I was capable of training in the weight room! I brought things they never saw, helped change the culture and discipline in the weight room! I watched the running backs these last couple of months turn into young men! They are learning so much! I love coaching! The day that athletes stop asking me questions will be the day that I retire from sports.
STS: How has your military experience influenced you as a coach?
Coach Wright-Lester: My military experience extends all the way back to when I was a kid. My dad retired CW4 Darren Wright-Lester, 36 years served. He has always coached me with my 8 sisters and brother. I believe my military experience enhanced my ability to coach at a level of which most coaches are not capable of. I like to observe things first before I give any input. I need to know who, what, when, where, why, and how? This allows me to pay attention to more details! How can I shape a character, an attitude, the ability to be positive? Where can we take the negative and turn it into a positive? It’s not always about yelling at an athlete! You have to find what drives them. As an NCO I always try to find what drives my soldiers to be motivated every day! This transferred onto the football field as well in the weight room! The more we’re excited about our tasks for the day, the more our athletes will be excited to be around us. Who wants somebody yelling in their face all day long? You just must know when to implement disciplinary action by correcting them, giving them a positive, and getting them moving. As a Soldier Coach, we must let our PRIDE down and find the root of the problem of certain individuals. How are you going to make them better than 10 seconds ago? Coaching is a gift, coaching is a reward, coaching is a lifetime!
STS: How has Soldiers To Sidelines impacted your life?
Coach Wright-Lester: Soldiers to Sideline has impacted my life In many ways. It has allowed me to re-engage in my life mission statement. My sole purpose is to mentor, coach, and guide young men and women in a direction that they can achieve greatness. After coming across Soldiers to Sidelines and reading their mission statement. I knew it was something special. I was missing something that I haven’t had in a long time: the Brotherhood and Sisterhood that understands “YOU”. My network is growing because of Soldiers to Sidelines. The more I stay connected with the community the more it will impact my life and others. STS has helped me think deeply and clearly in a direction I want to go into the future.
STS: What are your aspirations in coaching?
Coach Wright-Lester: My aspiration is to learn from leaders who know the game very well. I would say that I’m well-rounded! I’m always looking for that next challenge though! I want to learn from every position; from the coaches all the way down to the water boy. It helps me think about everybody else’s job and my job and how I can help them become a better person. I see it like this: if I know what everybody’s doing, I will be able to manage a team better! So eventually I would love to be a head coach and athletic director in high school, head college coach, or professional. I know it’s going to take time and sacrifice. It’s time to put the gloves on and go to work! Hopefully my next step is back into college football! Coaching is something I want to do for the rest of my life!
STS: What was the most difficult challenge you have experienced in coaching and what have you learned from that experience?
Coach Wright-Lester: There are so many challenges when you go into coaching. My most difficult challenge is that I have a family of eight. That’s right, four girls and two boys, my wife and myself. My wife is an elementary teacher, and all her kids are only the age 10. Did I mention I have a set of twins. So, the challenge that I have when I step into the world of coaching is do I have enough time to spend with my family. What I’ve learned is that my dreams are still valid, but my kids and my wife are the most important thing in my life. And one thing that my kids have learned from me, and my wife, is sacrifice. I need to learn that there are always going to be sacrifices made when changing a lifestyle. and now that I’m going into coaching it has been tough changing the lifestyle of my family. I believe whatever I give my kids they will learn as they grow. They will learn to sacrifice to get what they need. As a coach, I can impact more kids and young adults with a lifetime experience.
STS: Is there anything else you can share with us about your coaching story?
Coach Wright-Lester: I am a dad of six beautiful kids and my wife Jessica have been amazing! Without her I will be running in circles. She keeps me grounded and lets me fly at the moment I need to! If it wasn’t for her I would have stopped coaching a long time ago! I wake up everyday to remind myself who I am and what I’m capable of doing. I remind myself where I can take my future. I can’t wait for the rewards that come after. This is something I truly love and that’s coaching at every level: female, male, kids, adults, students and teachers. Everyday we learn something new. I want to thank Coach Harrison, Nix, Smith, Zabal, and all the other Coaches for building this community.