There are a lot of new faces on the CCES Football coaching staff this year, with over half of the current coaches in their first year with the varsity program. While there is a wide range of years at CCES and experience in coaching, the one thing they all have in common is their “why.” They have all gravitated towards coaching because of their desire to positively impact the lives of their players both on and off the field.
The coach with the most experience is Joel Rice, who has been coaching football for over 50 years while newest to coaching is Tim Brown, who is in his first year. Rice, who is in his 14th season as a Cavalier, is the Special Teams Coordinator but has coached on both sides of the ball over the course of his long coaching career. His favorite part of coaching is getting to work with students and says, with great fondness, that the guys on the team “keep me young.” Brown, the Running Backs coach, has wanted to coach in the past but his work schedule prevented him from saying yes. Brown came to CCES through his friendship with Head Coach Quin Hatfield. Hatfield coached Brown’s daughter in basketball and the two struck up a friendship as they had similar interests with “developing others and giving back.” Coach Brown calls “coaching and developing others” his passion, specifically “building great men of God” in the community.
Coach Hatfield’s coaching journey started in 2001 at Spring Valley High School. He finished his playing career at Newberry College in 1999 and decided to pursue a coaching position because he missed “being a part of the game, the teamwork, and the excitement.” He was a part of a feeder football program in Marietta, GA and saw the “value of engaging kids at a young age and teaching fundamentals.” He was interested in starting a similar program here at CCES which turned into JR Cavs Football. While his first season at the varsity level has been unique in the challenges due to COVID-19, he calls the overall experience “meaningful” thus far. He says, “The players have bought in, our football staff is incredible, and the support from administration and fans has been great.”
In addition to Hatfield and Brown, there are seven other coaches in their first year with the varsity team, three of which are in their first year at CCES - Stanley Worrell is an Offensive Assistant coach, Aaron Cottingham is the Head of Strength and Conditioning for all of Cavalier Athletics as well as the Linebackers Coach for the football team, and Keon Talbert is the Defensive Line Coach. Cottingham has been coaching since 2007 and says he pursued this career to “have a positive influence and impact on young adults like so many coaches did for me when I was their age.” CCES appealed to him because of “reputation and commitment to excellence in all areas.” Talbert started coaching two years ago and says he was drawn to it because of the “opportunity to work with and teach kids the game that has given me so much opportunity in life.” Talbert played college football with Offensive Coordinator Todd Cunningham at Presbyterian College and Cunningham is the one who reached out about joining the varsity staff at CCES. Talbert described the season as “crazy, in a positive way.” He comments, “With so much uncertainty from everything - from summer workouts to if we would even have a season - we’ve all drawn together as a family.” He calls this season, with so many of the coaches in their first year at the varsity level, a “wonderful shared experience.”
Todd Cunningham comes to CCES following a highly successful collegiate career as an All-American quarterback and a professional career in Germany. Offensive Line Coach Kenneth Ramey is also in his first season with the varsity team, but has previously coached with the D-team and the JV team here at CCES. Amani Richburg ‘16 helped out with the JR Cavs through Summer Encounters when he was a student here and now has returned to help with the varsity team. He started working with all levels during summer training and has been an assistant with the MS team and works with Wide Receivers for the varsity team.
Steven Harvin, a Defensive Assistant coach, first came to CCES when Hatfield wanted his help getting the JR Cavs program running and that experience led him to his current position with the varsity team. Harvin has been around football his whole life, watching it and playing competitively, and says “because of that, coaching the game is a way for me to stay actively involved and share my experience from my playing days with the current players.” He calls his experience with the Cavs “outstanding thus far” with the “top notch staff” and a “great group of guys” on the team.
In addition to all the new faces, there are still some more seasoned coaches on staff. Special Teams and Kickers Coach Jimmy Von Wyl is in his 6th season with CCES. Defensive Coordinator and Secondary Coach John Windham is in his 2nd season here but has coached for many years at both the high school and collegiate level. Coach Windham calls the “best and most lasting benefits of coaching and playing football are the relationships that are forged.” He views coaching through the lens of Colossians 3:23 - “whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord a reminder for the type of coach he wants to be and the mindset he wants his players to have. Quarterbacks Coach Larry Frost started coaching at Mauldin High School in 1976 and is in his 11th season at CCES. Frost can vividly remember the moment in seventh grade when he realized he wanted to go into coaching. A coach he “thought very much of” received another coaching offer, and cried when he broke the news to his team. Frost remembers being struck by how much the coach cared about them and decided that was what he wanted to do when he got older.
These coaches have all been positively impacted by the game of football and the coaches in their own lives and are now striving to do the same for their players. When asked about their objectives in coaching, wins and losses were not even mentioned. Instead, they all echoed larger life lessons that football can teach. “A lot of what I’ve learned and how I proceed on a day to day basis, I learned on a high school football field,” says Coach Talbert. “How to lead, how to handle adversity, how to be counted on, how to allow myself to count on other people, and most importantly, how to give my best in any endeavor” and Talbert hopes the players will take similar things away from their football experiences.
In summary, Coach Hatfield says he wants to teach them “to be a great teammate on the field and in life.” He urges his players to take confidence in Romans 8:31b – “If God is for us, who can be against us?” – and hopes they “always hold onto their identity in Christ.”
Of course, this is not to say that the team does not have football oriented goals or that they are not hungry to win games. They most certainly do and most certainly are. This team wanted to be competitive in the region and secure a spot in the playoffs, both of which they accomplished this year. However, as Hatfield and his staff strive to return this program to its winning ways (CCES won four straight titles from 2011-2014 and had a streak of 55 straight wins), they recognize it will not happen overnight. Coach Brown states, “Most winning cultures are not built in a moment.” As they work to “foster a winning mindset,” Brown says they must “allow our players to know that we can compete and belong in the discussion with the best teams in our league, while also leading the way academically.” Hatfield says his main goal is for the team to “compete for four quarters every game and to give our best” and believes that working hard is vital in forming a winning culture.
This year has not been any easy one by any stretch of the imagination, but this team has embraced every single challenge that has come their way. They put in hours of work this summer, starting when they couldn’t even use footballs. They ran the hills, they lifted, and they pushed each other. They have come together as a team and they are ready to compete in the playoffs together. Go Cavs.