Written next to the mural on the ceiling of the first-floor lobby in City Hall is a grand inscription: “We fight for the cause of honor, virtue, liberty pledged to the glory of a mighty Houston.”
Powerful, ambitious words about civic duty that could also apply as a neat summary of why Brad Davis and Tally Hall are so passionate about supporting the U.S. armed forces: men and women who serve for exactly those reasons.
The Dynamo goalkeeper stood beneath that slogan and spoke at a media conference on Wednesday along with Mayor Parker and a half-dozen members of the Armed Forces. July 4th is almost here—and that means Armed Forces Night at BBVA Compass Stadium, when the Dynamo face the New York Red Bulls (7:30 p.m. CT; TICKETS) and the club and Brad and Tally’s Banded Brigade honor the service of military members.
This year the aim is to better last year’s total of over 2,000 tickets purchased for members of the armed forces and their families with the help of fans and corporate partners. “Brad and I are the same, at a young age we both realized how valuable the military is and how lucky we are to have people throughout history and currently fighting to defend America, what we believe in and our way of life,” Hall told HoustonDynamo.com.
“That translates into allowing us to play professional soccer. That’s not a cliche, that’s a real thing and a way of life they help protect, so to us it’s ‘the reason we get to do it is because of them so that should be our number one priority in giving back’.
“We both have ties to the military and without soccer that’s the career path we would have taken. We’re fortunate enough to be playing soccer, we have a platform that’s a bit unique and special and we want to use that to maximize giving back to the people who’ve sacrificed so much for us.”
Hall’s brother was in the Air Force and is now with the Alaskan air guard, and both his grandfathers served in the military. “I came to the team in 2009 knowing that I wanted to give back to the military and armed forces in any way I could and Brad Davis had already started Brad’s Brigade by then so it was easy for me to say ‘OK, I’m going to support him and his initiative’,” said the 29-year-old.
Brad’s Brigade was rebranded as Brad and Tally’s Banded Brigade last year and the pair helped start a non-profit, Banded Brigade Outdoors. It will stage a 5k charity run on July 5th. The Brigade’s core mission is to provide service men and women with enjoyable outdoors experiences and connect with them on a personal level.
“We take men and women that are active duty, that are veterans, we don’t let any injury get in the way of trying to give the best time of their life. That’s our goal, that’s what we aim for. The best time, the best fishing trip, the best outdoor experience,” said Hall.
“It’s a way for us to relate to them on a level that we can. When we’re out hunting we’re hunters, when we’re out fishing we’re just people fishing, no titles, no tags, it’s just people hanging out and having a hands on experience. It’s not about just sponsoring a hunt and ‘saying hey, go and have a good time’. We want to be building relationships so it’s something we’re extremely proud of.”
Captain David Brown of the US Army Houston recruiting battalion said that initiatives that harness the power of sports have a huge positive impact. “I’ve been working with the team, Brad and Tally for the last two years and this has been tremendous. The US Army’s ambassadorship with the Dynamo’s ambassadorship, it means a lot to the troops,” he told HoustonDynamo.com.
“When we do things on deployments we look back at this as morale-boosting for us, we look at it as helping to do our jobs. To sit down and talk with these guys, autograph sessions, to come to soccer games and just be invited to be in their presence, it means a lot to the troops and I’m speaking on behalf of the Marines, the Navy, Coast Guard and Army as well. It’s been a tremendous experience for myself as a commander here to work with Tally and Brad over the two years an just to to see how much they care, the compassion they show for the troops.”
Hall knows that the importance of the match on Independence Day will go far deeper than just the MLS points at stake. “It’s our goal on Armed Forces Appreciation NIght to be a marquee game, a party, a celebration—so when these armed forces members and their families come out to this game they’re not just seeing a great Dynamo soccer game at BBVA Compass Stadium, it’s an event for them put on by Dynamo Charities and the fans and the players. It’s our way to put on a show in honor of them and entertain them. I’m really proud of what we’ve done in the past and we hope to continue to grow in the future.”
Tom Dart is a contributing writer to HoustonDynamo.com and HoustonDashSoccer.com. Former editor and reporter for The Times of London and reporter for SI.com, Dart currently freelances for The Guardian.