Head Football and Track Coach Gregory Leaves FHN
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As of this past Friday, Nov. 13, FHN is without a head football and track coach, as coach Brandon Gregory has decided to leave the school after his fourth season ended with a third consecutive 3-6 regular season record.
“At the end of the day, the game of football is going to end sooner or later,” Gregory said, “just like it did for me, but they [the players] are all going to go on in the real world, so you just hope that everything you were able to teach them through the game of football can help them become better men in life. With that being said, I think me and my staff have done a great job, and we have made strides to make these better young men. I love these kids like they’re my own, and I’m glad I’m leaving in good standing with everyone.”
As Gregory said, the game of football does always eventually end, and this decision looks to be, at least for now, the end of the beloved coach’s lifetime of direct involvement with the game of football. Gregory is leaving FHN mid-year to pursue a career in counselling, and he will take a position as a teaching assistant at Hazelwood Central Middle School as the first step on the path of this his new vocational journey.
“As of right now, I don’t know if I’ll coach again,” Gregory said. “I would like to- this is something I’ve been doing since I was six years old- but at the end of the day, like I tell the guys, family comes before football. Right now, this is more of a family move. I’m focusing on my career and my family, and I’ll go from there.”
While the coach may have some uncertainties in his future, one thing is for certain: he was loved by almost all he met at FHN, and he will be sorely missed. One of Gregory’s greatest attributes, as well as one of the main reasons he was hired at FHN, is his undeniable chemistry and connection with his students.
“We want someone that our kids can relate to and look up to,” FHN Athletic Director Mike Janes said, “someone who is going to be a good role model, somebody who is going to come in and be a positive influence on our kids, really turning it into not just a football family, but making it an FHN family. That’s what Coach Gregory was so good at. I know this, that if he decides to get back in to football, somebody is going to get a very good football coach.”
Speaking to nearly anyone about the coach will yield the same result; almost no harsh words can be spoken about Gregory after his four-year stint at FHN.
“His [Gregory’s] defining moment is that he truly is able to have players buy in to what he was doing,” Defensive Assistant Coach Charles Lott said. “They showed up. They put in effort. And they wanted to be there. If you asked any player, that’s how they would remember Coach Gregory. He was very motivational.”
The love that his players and staff had for him only makes Gregory’s departure more devastating. Setting heartbreak aside, though, FHN must begin the search to fill the void that Gregory is leaving. While individual candidates and applications for the positions cannot be filled, there is still room for plenty of speculation as to the qualities that FHN is looking for in a coach. Even the man charged with filling the position, Mr. Janes, is not entirely sure of the exact qualities that are needed to finally push the Knights into the realms of the elite.
“I’m looking for somebody who can be a leader in a lot of different aspects,” Janes said. “Not just a leader on the football field, though that will be an important thing, but we also need that leadership in character traits and trying to continue to prepare our students for what comes after high school. Coach Gregory always talked about how he wanted to ‘make these young men better sons. I want to make them better husbands. I want to make them better family people.’ Students will go a lot farther if they know a coach cares about them, so that is a big point of what I’m looking for.”
We recap FHN’s game against Timberland on Oct. 2:
Gregory’s absence is still a fresh wound in the spirits of non-athletes and athletes alike, so his former staffs are collectively stepping up to help students train even though the man they once called Coach is now gone.
“We’re still running the team as if nothing has changed,” Lott said. “We’ve made our offseason goals; we’ve hung them up in the weight room; we have workouts made. We’re continuing as if nothing’s changed. The only difference is that Coach Gregory isn’t showing up, other coaches are. At this point, it doesn’t feel that anything has changed.”
It may feel that nothing has changed for now, but FHN has lost one of the most recognizable and beloved members of its staff. Whether he’s called Coach, BG or simply Gregory- whether he’s acting as a football strategist, motivational speaker or physical education teacher- BG was BG, and he and all of his dictums, aphorisms and maxims will be dearly missed at FHN.