Southern High School Football Coaches are a special breed. In a place where football is the main attraction to a small town, the experience of southern high school football borders on the same parallel as religious experiences or rituals. No, people aren’t shaking and convulsing on the ground catching the “Holy Spirit” well, almost not.
(Some people definitely get laid out from time to time.) There’s an enormous rallying spirit behind the games played, the effort it took to create the display of unifying colors, intricate plays, witty banners, marching bands, and spectacular athletic ability among boys who are turning into men, and in some circumstances transforming into modern gladiators.
There are many people who come together to make a football program run like a well oiled machine. There can be nearly a dozen specialized coaches, trainers, administrators, sponsors, businesses, zealous parents, and of course the athletes themselves. Most southern high school football programs have most all of these elements if not more going on at once. But there’s something else that creates the catalyst for a winning team, able talent to go above and beyond what they think is possible and students to become productive members of society. That catalyst is the man with the plan, that fuel of inspiration comes from the coach himself.
Of all the coaches at Douglas County High School in Georgia, during my time there as a student and athlete, one man stood out among the rest to me, and to many other players. His distinct southern accent, the twang in his dialect, the enthusiasm in his body, and hard nosed determination to make us all “Brahma Bulls” helped to carry some of us to new heights under his guidance and tutelage. When many of us were without father figures, he played a role in our lives that didn’t set out to fill the void we were missing, but somehow it did. He just wanted us to win, and win by becoming the best versions of ourselves possible on and off the field. Coach Monty Fountain was my high school linebacker coach and he’s helped to make a man out of me at a time when I was hard to reach. On the field, he made me into a fearless, relentless, and unstoppable modern gladiator.
Sure we ran football drills and practiced at a high level, nearly at a game like pace every time. But there was something about the man that you could fear and respect at the same time. The pitch of his whistle reverberated throughout the practice field and spilled over into residential areas as he instructed us to push pass the brink of what we thought was possible. Water was always available and you could quit if you wanted to….but for Coach Fountain you wouldn’t dream of quitting in front of him. He believed in you, and you never wanted to let his high expectation be in vain. Pads clashed and sweat would pour from your brow as you ran drills over and over until they became second nature. You instinctively knew what to do under a myriad of random situations that would present themselves.
No sense in whining and pouting over small cuts and bruises. If your bone wasn’t sticking out of your skin, you were better off getting back to work. “Put some dirt on it!” If you were throwing up during practice, Coach Fountain wouldn’t be upset, he’d just yell at you “Get that poison out your system!” He was usually right, as teenagers shouldn’t go drinking at party’s just to arrive to practice the next day expecting their linebacker coach to take it lightly on them. We were a mixed bunch of kids from different backgrounds and cultures but what he tried to instill in us transcended all of our differences. Most of our coaches took a page right out of the great Vince Lombardi’s playbook and decided that if we weren’t going to be the most talented players on the filed, we would at least be the best conditioned. We were talented, we were conditioned and we were some of the baddest mothers on the planet. Till this day, I’m proud to be considered a Fountain Linebacker, and I hope to be the Brahma Bull he always believed I was and could be during my times of ups and downs. (The urban dictionary for Brahma Bull is the pinnacle of human evolution, there is none better than him. He is truly a god among men.) Takes one to know one, Coach Fountain.