By Pfc. Liah Kitchen | 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing
A group of girls, ranging from 11- to 14-years-old, trickled into the Semper Fit gym aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California with their parents.
A young woman with short, curly, red hair and a smile on her face, greeted them as they arrived.
She introduced herself as their new volleyball coach.
Lance Cpl. Daphne Patterson, a meteorological analyst and forecaster with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron aboard MCAS Miramar, made time to volunteer despite the constraints of her job during the volleyball and soccer seasons.
Patterson works approximately 72 hours a week at MCAS Miramar’s Meteorological and Oceanographic (METOC) facility, which informs 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing pilots about current weather situations enabling them to successfully and safely complete flight missions.
“Because we are a regional METOC center, we are responsible for the outlying air stations of 3rd MAW,” said Patterson. “Someone has to be on shift at all times, so we work 24 hours on shift, and then 48 hours off shift.”
Despite working long hours, Patterson volunteered her time at the Miramar Youth and Teen Center and coached volleyball and soccer for the Youth Sports Program.
“She’s very dependable; the parents love her and the kids love her,” said Sharon Jones, Youth Sports Manager aboard MCAS Miramar. “She is very dedicated to what she is doing and worked hard to teach the kids everything she knew.”
According to Jones, Patterson’s work with the Youth Sports program provided the children of military families with the development of physical, social, emotional and cognitive skills.
“When I coached volleyball, I coached 11 to 14-year-olds, and to me that’s the age where girls start to be affected by what’s in the media; they start to think they aren’t beautiful,” said Patterson. “That’s the age where school gets harder and life gets a lot more confusing. I just wanted to be a positive role model for those girls — to let them know they have someone on their side.”
Despite not playing sports much growing up, Patterson coached because she loves kids.
“You can really tell she’s here for the kids,” said Jones. “She comes out because she has a lot of fun and she enjoys being here.”
In addition to coaching, Patterson also volunteered with other organizations such as MCAS Miramar’s Single Marine Program and Toys for Tots. Her love of volunteering started when she was in high school.
“I think I have time to give rather than donating a bunch of money to a charity,” said Patterson. “If you show up as a group of Marines to volunteer, and you work hard to get the job done, that can improve the outside community’s view of the local Marines and Marines in general.”
According to Patterson, coaching has given her more confidence as a leader and she plans to continue coaching.