Honor and Service - Kevin Garner's Story

Kevin Garner's Story Many times coaches are overlooked for the positive influence they have not only on our youth, but also in society. These men and women are often tasked with much more than just developing young athletes. Their lives away from sport oftentimes allow them the opportunity to positively impact a larger population of people.

At this time of year when we are extending thanks for the blessings in our lives, let’s not forget to thank those who continue to serve our country in military service. Kevin Garner is one of those individuals. Karen H., who is a member of Kevin’s church and volunteers alongside him in their Upward Sports program, sent his story to us. 

Kevin is among a group of many who are both ministering to our young athletes and serving on the frontlines to protect our nation’s freedom.  While November is designated as Coach Appreciation Month, please take the time remember and pray for those who provide us the opportunity to freely celebrate our faith without persecution as well as the many other freedoms we take for granted.


Besides being a naval officer, he is more importantly a devoted husband, father, and God-fearing Christian man.

I'd like to recognize coach Kevin Garner from our Upward Sports program during Coach Appreciation Month!

Currently, he is active duty military. He has been a dedicated coach and volunteer to our Upward Sports program since we started. Kevin has really touched me by how much dedication he gives the Upward program. When there are not enough coaches, he is always willing to fill in. I think he has coached as many as 3 teams in one season and assisted with several others. Whenever Kevin’s teams aren’t practicing, you can be sure he is at the church gym, helping to make sure all other practices run smoothly and everyone has what they need. Kevin always arrives early on game days to set up and stays till after the last game to break everything down.

Kevin also is a regular during devotion time. He loves to share his testimony, which could relate to a numbers of things such as family stories or life experiences, including his naval career. He has been a wonderful devotional speaker!

Kevin is not one to take glory or honor for his service! He is a very humble servant. He has been a huge asset to our Upward program!

Kevin’s family members are also participants and servants within our Upward program.  

His wife Heather is a very proud navy wife! She has been an amazing coach and dedicated Upward volunteer. They both volunteered at a church in Connecticut, and when they moved here to Virginia Beach, their number one thing in choosing a church was one that had an Upward program. At the time they came to our church, we were only in our second season, and they helped improve our program so much! I can’t believe that was 8-9 years ago!

Oh, did I forget to mention both of them have been attending Liberty University online for ministry degrees?

I don't know how they do it!

Here are just a few examples of the ways they’ve volunteered their time to support our Upward program:

  • Coaching
  • Devotions
  • Clean up
  • Break down
  • Resetting the church for Sunday morning
  • Set up for end of season awards
  • Preseason paperwork 
  • Computer work
  • Sign ups
  • Fittings
  • Evaluations
  • And so much more! You name it, and they've been there ready and willing to serve!

As a testament of Kevin and Heather’s positive impact within their immediate family, BOTH of their sons have also gone on to coach within Upward programs.

Joshua coached at our church until he went to college in Georgia. He immediately found a church with Upward Soccer and has been coaching there ever since. His brother, Branden, has coached at least one team a season and sometimes assisting several more ever since he has been old enough to volunteer.

The Garners are super amazing and truly dedicated to the work Christ is doing through them! I don’t know if I can even say enough about how Kevin has helped us. Besides being a naval officer, he is more importantly a devoted husband, father, and God-fearing Christian man. 


“I have really enjoyed spreading the Gospel and teaching how to live our lives through Christ by coaching boys and girls in the game of basketball.  The Upward Basketball program has given me this opportunity, the opportunity to minister to parents, and the opportunity to build lasting friendships.”    – Kevin Garner

Kevin has spent time on both submarines and aircraft carriers as a Nuclear Electricians Mate, and more recently, as a Limited Duty Officer (LDO). During his time in the Navy, Kevin has served on several different vessels including the following: USS Simon Bolivar SSBN-641(B), USS West Virginia SSBN-736(B), USS Virginia SSN-774, USS Harry S. Truman CVN-75, USS California SSN-781, COMSUBLANT/COMSUBGRU TWO SY REP Office NNS, and USS Dwight D. Eisenhower CVN-69.

Share your coach story with us, and enter the Coach Appreciation Month Contest. (Contest ends November 30, 2014.)