rotary chris fancher.jpg

Gardendale High School head football coach speaks Wednesday to the Gardendale Area Rotary Club.

Football, and the lessons learned from it, were the topic during Wednesday’s Gardendale Area Rotary Club meeting.

Gardendale High School head football coach Chris Fancher gave the business club an overview of the sports program and on his philosophy about how to run it.

Fancher said Gardendale’s program has some disadvantages compared to some of its 6A rivals. The Rockets have 58 players in grades 10-12, while one over-the-mountain school has 120 players in the same grades. And Gardendale also has a smaller coaching staff than many of the opponents the team will face this year.

“But we don’t talk about that,” he said. “We try to take the approach that we’ll take quality over quantity.” Of 58 players, Fancher said, 39 have a GPA of 3.0 or higher and 25 have a GPA of 3.5 or higher.

“We have a good group of kids right now,” he said. “We have a chance to have an awfully good football team.”

That, he said, in spite of a negative change he has seen in his 24 years of coaching — a change that tends to spoil kids, even football players.

“We’ve raised a generation that thinks they can do everything,” he said. “They can’t make decisions.” He said many young people today quit when things get hard because they are used to instant gratification.

“That’s a problem right now,” he said.

That’s one reason that Fancher’s program has more to it than just football. He demands accountability from his players.

“I know they think I’m too tough on them,” he said. “But football is a demanding sport. ... The scoreboard matters. The scoreboard in life matters.”

Fancher said his coaching staff, the booster club and other parents all work hard to help the football team successful. He said coaches are all “on the same page and pulling in the same direction,” and the players’ parents fund-raise and support the team in other ways.

Fancher makes sure the players get fed at every practice during camp, which is one purpose of the parents’ fund-raising.

“Those are little things, but you have to make them feel extraordinary,” he said. “They’ve got to have an edge mentally somehow” when playing against the bigger, better-funded better-equipped teams.

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