After Work #01: Elvin Chandra
After work, employees often fill their time with passionate pursuits that can be fun, creative or especially noteworthy. Here, we’ll take an up close and personal look at what SureID employees do to relax, refresh and connect with their community.
How We Met:
Elvin is a newbie in SureID’s Vetting and Screening Services (VSS) department, clocking just a few months on the job. We have that in common and shared high-fives over our newbie status. I met Elvin when he reached out, not only to share his story, but to give recognition to the athletes he coaches.
Elvin is high energy and over the years he has coached volleyball for winning clubs like Athena and WebFoot. He has also coached at the college level, and recently returned from coaching the U.S. Marines at the Warrior Games.
The Warrior Games is an adaptive sports competition for wounded, ill and injured service personnel and veterans organized by the U.S. Department of Defense. These games have taken place annually since 2010. This year they were held at West Point, New York and SureID’s Elvin Chandra was there coaching the team in seated volleyball.
What was one of your most memorable moments?
My first time coaching at the Warrior Games I was coaching a single-arm amputee and we were doing setting drills. Setting drills typically require two hands and you have to move quickly to get under the ball. I knew this would be tough for him and I said, “Hey, just do the best you can and let me know if this is something you can’t do.”
In my mind I’m thinking this is going to be hard and I’m not sure if he can do it. I coach girls with two limbs that struggle, so it’s going to be a challenge for him. He could tell I wasn’t confident and he said “Coach, I got this.” In my mind, I’m still thinking there is no way he can do this, but I say “Ok, let’s see how many in a row each athlete can get setting back and forth with a partner and the highest number of reps wins.”
You have to understand, this is seated volleyball so these athletes are on their butts. He has to move with one hand to get under the ball then get his one hand up to set it back to his partner. Well, guess what? He got the highest score out of the 60 athletes in the gym, with the majority of them having full use of both of their arms and hands. Never again will I ever underestimate anyone. That was such a pivotal time for me, because this lightbulb went off in my head: that’s the way it should be. I should have that type of attitude and mentality that I can do anything. It inspired me just to be a different type of person and I have adapted that type of mindset in everything I do.
Any surprising lessons that you’ve learned?
This year at West Point we lost in the semi-finals to Army, and as a competitor that stung. The athletes I coach come from athletic backgrounds. A lot of them competed at high levels before they were injured while protecting us. They are competitors, so it stung them too. As a coach I was upset and sulked for a couple of days, but after I calmed down I realized this isn’t about me. This is about the athletes and their whole experience here at the games. It’s about their recovery through athletics and competition and, win or lose, that’s the most important thing. That is only reinforced when an athlete comes up and says, “I can’t wait to compete again next year coach!”
What do you love about coaching the Marines at the Warrior Games?
The relationships that you get to build with the athletes. The athletes have been through so much in different ways and maybe there are parts of their lives that aren’t going well. Some have never played volleyball; some were big-time athletes who have lost a limb or mobility in their body, or have traumatic brain injury. I can only imagine the amount of loss that they have had to deal with and accept. Here at the Warrior Games, they get to put that all aside and be a part of team again and you see this amazing transition day by day. Through hard work and comradery, we become a team working together. Their drive and vision for success just lights them up! It’s difficult to put that into words what that feeling is like by the end of a tournament when they are asking, “When do I get to see you again coach? When do I get to do this again?” It’s special and I learn more from them than they learn from me.
Are there similarities between your experience with these athletes and SureID values?
SureID is essentially protecting all of these men and women working on military bases. We make sure civilians and service men and women are safe through strict vetting and screening processes. These athletes have given so much and many have laid down their lives for us. They have given us more than we can ever give back, but at SureID we are doing our part to help keep everyone a little safer. It’s nice to be able to give back by providing additional security procedures at the bases where they reside, and to see that relationship in action is something I’m excited to be a part of.