Leading on and off the field

The U.S. Air Force Men’s Soccer Team pose for a group photo following the final match of the 2018 Armed Forces Men's Soccer Championship, at Hedrick Stadium on Fort Bragg, N.C.

The U.S. Air Force Men’s Soccer Team pose for a group photo following the final match of the 2018 Armed Forces Men's Soccer Championship, at Hedrick Stadium on Fort Bragg, N.C. The Air Force finished the tournament undefeated. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class John Benson)

Air Force Head Coach Maj. Jeremiah Kirschman, left, is awarded a championship medal by Army Col. Kyle Reed, Garrison Commander of Fort Bragg, at Hedrick Stadium on Fort Bragg, N.C.

Air Force Head Coach Maj. Jeremiah Kirschman, left, is awarded a championship medal by Army Col. Kyle Reed, Garrison Commander of Fort Bragg, at Hedrick Stadium on Fort Bragg, N.C. The 2018 Armed Forces Men's Soccer Championship featured service members from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Coast Guard and Air Force. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class John Benson)

MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- Every two years, some of the U.S. military’s top men’s soccer players go head-to-head in the Armed Forces Men’s Soccer Championship. This year, the Air Force and the Navy met in the championship match.

With a 2-1 deficit heading into halftime, Maj. Jeremiah Kirschman, Air Force head coach and 341st Contracting Squadron commander here, knew his team was capable of more.

Forty-five minutes later, the Air Force found themselves with a 5-2 lead and claimed gold medals.

As a leader on the sidelines and a leader in the squadron, Kirschman is exemplary of what a selfless leader is.

“When I see the players come together, for them to come back and win the game, it was very rewarding for me to see them meet their goals,” said Kirschman.

For Kirschman, or “Coach Kirsch” on the field, being a leader offers opportunities to see people grow and accomplish their goals.

“Coach Kirsch made it very clear that he cared about all of us not only as players but as Airmen and as individuals,” said Senior Airman Benjamin Lockler, 319th Security Forces Squadron armorer at Grand Forks Air Force Base, North Dakota. “I was able to talk to him about my goals for soccer, as well as my career, and it’s obvious he genuinely wanted the best for all of us.”

During their soccer campaign, the team had a goal of winning the championship and to give 100 percent effort every time they stepped on the field. Not only did they accomplish that, but they went beyond and finished the tournament undefeated.

“Coach Kirsch brought all of us together by recognizing we were all Airmen, we wanted to win the gold medal and we love the game of soccer,” said Tech. Sgt. Jose Zepeda, 148th Space Operations Squadron satellite systems at Vandenberg AFB, California. “It was easy for all different (Air Force specialty codes) to come together and form one team to accomplish the goal at hand- gold!”

In his squadron, Kirschman wants his people to know they’re appreciated for their hard work.

“It’s very rewarding for me to see them put in all the hard work and then fight to help them get the right markings on their enlisted performance reports or a good stratification for an officer performance report,” said Kirschman. “I love this job because I love seeing people get rewarded for the work they’re putting in.”

Kirschman is headed to Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, in July, to work on the staff of Air Mobility Command.