The consensus between Conway alderman Andy Hawkins and I, after concluding our video interviews with football coaches, is the seven head coaches we have in the county are the best set of coaches, in terms of personality, the county has had.
That’s not to say past coaches have had bad personalities, but this set of coaches are guys you want to pull for every time they are on the field and off it, as well.
Of course, the county has Hendrix coach Buck Buchanan, who can light up a room with his personality.
He even laughs off the fact that there is a Twitter account called “NotBuck NotBuchanan” based off his sayings that is run by his players.
Greenbrier’s Randy Tribble and Conway Christian’s Justin Kramer are soft spoken, but just as every coach wants their kids to succeed outside of football.
I’ve ran into coach Tribble several times since last football season and he always greets me.
He’s a guy you can approach and ask about the team and how they will perform. He’ll give you a straight answer.
He knows football like the back of his hand.
Kramer doubled as Conway Christian’s baseball coach a few games into this past season after coach Andrew Roberson left for a football coaching position at England.
Kramer truly wants the best for his players on and off the field.
And, his players want to play for him.
After a one-point loss to Hector last football season, now senior quarterback Jacob Wood came up to Kramer while I was interviewing the coach and Wood said, ‘I promise we won’t lose another game this season.’
The Eagles didn’t lose a game until CCS lost to Mount Ida, the eventual 2A champion, by six points in the quarterfinals.
These coaches have been at their schools for at least one year.
New Vilonia coach Todd Langrell is also a familiar name in the county after coaching on Tribble’s staff and was head coach at Mayflower until earlier this year.
While standing on the sideline of a Mayflower game last season, I heard an interaction with Langrell and his punter.
The punter had just shanked a punt and yelled an expletive. When the player came to the sideline, the first thing Langrell said was ‘why do you have to use language like that?’
I found a new respect for Langrell. He has always been nice to me and still wants coverage for Mayflower.
He is another one that truly cares for his players.
For the new guys, UCA’s Nathan Brown, Conway’s Keith Fimple and Mayflower’s Austin Emerson seem like all great guys.
Brown, of course, has been a part of UCA in some capacity, whether football player or coach since 2004.
He lives and breathes UCA and has a passion to win championships and help mold his players for life after football.
His energy and passion for UCA may be unmatched by previous coaches in my memory. (I’ve only seen two other coaches at UCA in Clint Conque and Steve Campbell).
Fimple has been a joy to meet, as well.
He, too, has a passion for his players and life after football.
In a recent Noon Rotary Club meeting, Fimple said he wants the community to back the Wampus Cats through the player’s outreach.
As for Emerson, I’ve known him for about 10 years now.
He, his wife and I all went to the same church together for quite a while.
Emerson served as our youth group intern one summer.
He has a passion for coaching players to be the best they can be and has a great personality.
If there were any doubt people will like these men, that doubt can be put to rest.
They truly care about their players outside of football and want their players to succeed on the field and in the classroom.