The Kiwanis Club hosted Newton County high school football coaches yesterday, and they spoke about an array of topics such as the season, former players, Newton County school system and more.
In front of them were plates of barbecue chicken, cole slaw salad and an ice cold cup of tea. The coaches sat next to each other in a row, Alcovy’s Kirk Hoffman was on the end next to the podium, on his left was Eastside’s Rick Hurst and on Hurst’s left was Newton’s Terrance Banks.
Each coach had an opportunity to speak before members of the Kiwanis club and a host of guests. Hurst went first followed by Hoffman, then Banks. Each coach took the opportunity to make a few jokes and talk about their team.
One theme all coaches seemed to agree on was their love for the Newton County school system. Hoffman, Hurst and Banks all have experience dealing with other school systems, and they say Newton County’s is the best.
Suffice to say, obviously that’s an easy thing to say when Newton County is your employer, but the fact that all of the coaches shared the same sentiment without being asked about it speaks to the fact there is some truth there.
“When you coach for 30 years you find good and bad,” Hoffman said. “I’m in a good situation, got great support not just at the local but at county office, and that means a lot.”
Banks, who has witnessed firsthand the Cobb and Gwinnett County school system’s dealings said that Newton County is on par if not better than Cobb and Gwinnett, two of the counties that are perceived to be some of the best in the state.
“People think that Gwinnett County football and athletics have everything, but that’s not true,” Banks said.
Banks went on to list some of the great things Newton County has going for it such as, its athletic trainers at each school and exceptional facilities. Gwinnett County didn’t purchase all five-star helmets for its football players, but Newton County did.
All three coaches agree that although Sharp Stadium is a top of the line facility, arguably one of the best in the state, they’d all like to have their own stadium.
The coaches also spoke on the how much it means to them to have players go off to school. Hurst extended that and said that he loves when his players come back after graduating as great citizens.
“The one important part for me is not that we win. Yes it’s important because that’s how we’re held accountable as head coaches by what our record is. But I think what’s more important is when we see those young men come back,” Hurst said. “That makes me feel better than wins. I enjoy seeing them come back. When they come in the program they’re boys, but when they leave they’re young men.”
Hurst, who said he loves going to work everyday, spoke about Horace Johnson Jr., who was in attendance, and how Johnson Jr.’s son had went on to college and has now graduated and found a job.
Hoffman spoke about how his players embody the term student-athlete. Alcovy alum Gary Wilkins, a defensive end at Furman University, who is a team captain and head of the student leadership team was one of Hoffman’s examples. Hoffman also spoke on Devon Edwards, who is maintaining a 3.4 GPA while playing football at Duke University.
Banks, just in his second year at Newton, had all of his senior graduate last year and sveen of them received some sort of scholarship. Banks says that making students’ four years of high school memorable is something heenjoys, that includes fans.
At Newton’s opener versus Berkmar, Banks says he saw kids with their bodies painted in black, with a group of them spelling out Newton with one letter per bare chest. Banks says that he was approached by a kid that was trying to tell him about it but before he could Banks told him, “Everything we do is for you (students) and your high school experience. I want you to look back at your time at Newton High School and say it was the greatest four years.”
Banks added, “I told my juniors, ‘I want you to leave here only knowing what it feels like to make the playoffs.’ Once you do that, you start a tradition for everybody else.”
As far as being high school football coach, all three coaches emitted one constant theme, the fact that they’re job is better than yours, but in a good way.
Banks said, “It’s the best job in the world. Everyday is opening day”