AFMC Command News

AFSVC reserve officer joins UTSA basketball as coach 

  • Published
  • By Craig Rodarte
  • AFIMSC Public Affairs

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas – An Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center teammate is going to be sitting courtside this season for the University of Texas at San Antonio men’s basketball team as an assistant coach.  

Around the Air Force Services Center, Lt. Col. Kurtis Darden is a reserve officer who is serving as an individual mobilization augmentee. Around UTSA, he’s known as Coach Darden, a member of the men’s basketball coaching staff since May 2023.  

The native of Fayetteville, North Carolina, brings years of basketball playing experience and dedicated Air Force service to the collegiate team.  

“I was fortunate enough to be a part of the All-Air Force basketball program while I was on active duty and as a Reservist for five years,” he said. “I wanted to continue to be a part of the game, so I looked for opportunities to coach and found out that I had a strong passion for it.” 

While playing, Darden and the Air Force team won the Armed Forces Championship in 2006, 2007 and 2008. He wanted to start coaching as soon as he stopped playing competitively and his journey started shortly after with success as he led the 2011 All-Air Force team to an Armed Forces Championship as an assistant coach.  

UTSA Roadrunner Head Coach Steve Henson said Darden’s basketball experience, combined with his military background, will serve him well as a coach.  

“We had a previous relationship with Coach Darden so we know about his character and integrity,” Henson said. “His military background provides an excellent foundation for coaching and mentoring our players.”  

Holding his faith first, to which he credits all the successes of his life, Darden applies a winning mentality to both facets of his professional life. 

“As an Airman and member of the enterprise for the world’s greatest Air Force, you can’t lose. This team is undefeated,” Darden said.  “Being a team means there are no single points of failure, always a teammate to pick up the slack if needed. I always see solutions and success whether that is on the court or while supporting the Department of the Air Force.” 

As a lifelong scholar of the game of basketball and life, Darden is currently working on a Master’s of Divinity degree; a testament to how his faith is an anchor in his life. He previously earned a master’s in physical education and sports administration from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke in 2010 and a master’s in communications studies from Pfeiffer University, North Carolina, in 2003. 

All these milestones and successes are happening in and around his Air Force career. His active-duty assignments took him to Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, and Kirkuk Air Base, Iraq, with Reserve assignments to Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina; Pope AFB, North Carolina; and now JBSA-Lackland. 

“I have always wanted to work with the AFSVC team and have been fortunate enough to do that since 2015,” he said. “I love the mission and love serving in an area that reaches so many parts of the Air Force.”  

While Darden enjoys delivering services to Airmen and families, he is applying the qualities he has inherited from his military background to also deliver his service as a coach to his players.     

“Most athletic programs desire to have elements that relate to the military,” Henson said. “In our program, we talk about PACE – Process, Accountability, Consistency and Excellence. We know Coach Darden has lived those attributes and can teach them to our players.” 

The military was a natural choice for Darden, having grown up the son of an Army sergeant major. Basketball runs as deep as military service, so when he made the decision to leave active duty and end his playing career, the Air Force Reserve allowed him to still serve and coach. 

The best part about serving in the Reserve is being surrounded by great people who make up an organization that protects our country’s freedom, he said. 

“The military is a way of life for me and I love filling in from time to time as a Reservist,” Darden said. 

With the goal of being a head coach of a university one day, Darden said he’s currently in his dream job at UTSA. 

“I have a very competitive spirit and I’m all about accomplishing goals,” he said. “The best part about coaching is guiding individuals to work together to compete and accomplish goals they have for themselves.” 

UTSA men’s basketball is looking to surprise a lot of people outside of the program this year and Coach Darden said he’s hoping his basketball, life and Air Force experiences inserted into the program will help lead to successful results when the season begins Nov. 6.