HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --
Reach for the stars, you might hit the moon.
As kids, we often dream about what we want to do when we are older. Some wanted to be an astronaut, while others a movie star or a professional athlete. The reality is that we cannot all live out our initial dreams, but the few who get the chance relish the opportunity--even if it is a different circumstance.
Staff Sgt. Joseph Haug, 49th Communications Squadron knowledge management supervisor, knew from as early as four years old that he had a passion for soccer and wanted to play at the highest level possible.
This October, Haug is set to play for the U.S. Armed Forces soccer team at the International Military Sports Council Military World Games in Wuhan, China.
“I grew up watching the U.S. men's national (soccer) team,” said Haug. His eyes lit up as he reminisced. “It's pretty cool that I'm getting a shot to represent my country on the soccer field, even if it's not necessarily for the national team.”
Standing at about 5 feet, 5 inches tall, with an athletic frame, Haug looks like a soccer player. Although he says playing professionally for the men’s national team is no longer his primary goal, one would not know that from seeing him workout or watching the way he leads his teams.
“Typically I work from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. every day,” said Haug. “Then, I’ll go do fitness on my own, and attend practice with the base team.”
Haug practices three times a week with his team. With the dedication he displays at practice, he expects the same from his teammates. During practice one can often hear Haug calling out words of encouragement to his teammates, or driving them to push themselves harder. He radiates an infectious positive energy that permeates throughout the team.
“Being confident in my abilities and what I say really reflects how my teammates not only treat each other, but how they play themselves,” said Haug. “I know that I have to be a motivating factor to bring out the best in the team.”
Haug also played a big part in getting the base team to varsity status, something that has not existed for the base soccer team in about 10 years.
As talented as he is on the soccer field, Haug has had an interest in the military from a young age as well.
“My aunt and uncle both went to West Point, so the military was always in the back of my mind, and I knew I wanted to play soccer,” said Haug. “A recruiter telling me I could play soccer in the Air Force was just the best of both worlds.”
Pursuing both soccer and military service, Haug has many people he has looked to for inspiration and continues to meet more as his career goes on.
“Obviously the coaches I’ve had have inspired me,” said Haug. “My teammates on the armed forces and Air Force team inspire me by what they do every day. Some of these other guys are Marines working downrange, or they're in the Navy on a ship six months out of the year. They inspire me by not only staying in shape, but by being able to keep their soccer ability up while working a mission that's probably more strenuous than mine.”
Haug is not only motivated on the soccer field. His enthusiasm is shows in his job as well. Haug works as a unit deployment manager, and a unit fitness program manager for his squadron, along with supervising five Airmen.
With all these different commitments, Haug stays busy, but he also stresses that it is an honor to be a part of the team.
“It's a really small percentage of Americans that get to represent their country in the first place,” said Haug. “Some do it through sport, like the men's national team, others through military service. Not only do I get to represent in my military uniform, but I also get to represent in the American uniform when I step on the soccer field. It's truly an honor and a privilege and something that I don't take lightly.”