For six years, Stan Luttrell has led the Chestatee football team. In his first year as coach of the team, he took the War Eagles to the state playoffs, and, while he hasn’t returned since, he’s optimistic about the direction in which the program is headed.
In 2011, Chestatee won its first three games before injuries took their toll throughout the middle of the season. Luttrell has said that with a healthy team, he expects to extend the early-season success of 2011 into the upcoming season.
More than anything, though, the coach is happy to continue what he believes is his calling in life: working with kids and helping mold them into young men. On Sunday, The Times spoke with Luttrell to discuss his appreciation of football and the role his faith plays in his everyday life.
Question: Coach, it’s mid-June. You got football on the mind 24/7 already?
Answer: Absolutely. We’re in the third week of our summer program and we’ve got some multi-sport guys who are going in different directions all month. So it’s been a busy month. But we’re working hard. We’ve got a good group of boys showing up every day working hard and getting better.
Q: What have you and the team got going on right now?
A: It’s a little bit of everything. We lift, we do speed and agility drills, we teach our football drills, we work with the offense and the defense. We’ve thrown in the 7-on-7 development with East Hall earlier this month, then we wrap up June next week with the Hall County FCA day. It’s been a lot.
Q: Sounds like things have been going pretty well so far?
A: Definitely. We’ve got a lot of juniors and seniors within our program. Those guys have been around and know what we expect, and they’re showing up and working real hard.
Q: This will be your seventh year at Chestatee. Is it hard to believe it’s been that long already?
A: It is. Time flies. It’s exciting to be able to be in one place for as long as we have been, and we’re looking forward to continuing to build the program here at Chestatee. There are a lot of exciting things going on. We’ve got the field house being built right now, and that’s exciting for us. We’re looking forward to a great 2012.
Q: What’s something that you’ve really taken away the most from your time so far at Chestatee?
A: I think the one thing that Chestatee is really known for is caring about people. Everything that Chestatee does in the classroom or on the field is about what’s best for the students and the student athletes. Our community does a great job of supporting programs that are good for these kids. I’m very proud to be here. I think we’ve done a lot of good things.
Q: How long have you been coaching?
A: I’ve been coaching for 14 years, 11 of which have been as a head coach. I got my first head coaching job in Tennessee. I was the youngest head coach in the state at the time. Then I came over here as an assistant at Johnson, spent two years as a head coach at Union County, and then ended up here at Chestatee.
Q: The youngest head coach in the state of Tennessee. That’s kind of a big deal.
A: I just turned 38, and I’m just very thankful to be where I’m at. There are a lot of people who are 38 and still looking for their first head coaching position. I don’t take it for granted at all. My situation is very unique, I know, and I’m really appreciative of that. It’s given me the opportunity to learn things at a younger age.
Q: What’s the best thing for you about coaching? What makes all the stress and difficulties worthwhile?
A: Just to have the influence over young men, to develop them. And even our coaches, too. I think the role that a coach has is often overlooked. It’s a huge responsibility to be called ‘Coach’, and I really am grateful for that title. I really enjoy the process of building teams and the young athletes, watching them grow. Just seeing those guys develop and grow and mature. I think that’s a good thing. I think that’s one of the best things about being the coach.
Q: You play ball in college at all?
A: I played at Carson Newman College in Tennessee. I played linebacker my whole career. As soon as my playing days were over, I immediately went into coaching.
Q: Who had the biggest impact on what you do now?
A: I think the whole staff at Carson-Newman is well known for developing coaches. The style of coaching there is something I try to emulate. It’s a place where it’s more than football. The coaches always say we’re going to keep the main thing the main thing: That’s God, family and football. I transferred to Carson-Newman to play for a national championship team, but God had much bigger plans for me there. God saved me there, I met my wife at Carson-Newman. I won a lot of games and I learned how to be a Christian coach.
Q: I can tell your faith plays a role in your life and with football. Talk about that.
A: It’s a huge role. We live in a time where there are a lot of single-parent homes, a lot of kids don’t have an example of a man in their life — not necessarily at Chestatee — but that’s a great opportunity for coaches to step in. I believe that coaching is a ministry. I believe in the commonality of football and life: working hard towards a goal, the highs and lows. That’s one of the reasons football is so great. It mimics life. Life isn’t always going to be easy, so these men can learn how to handle adversity. The coach has a great opportunity to impact a lot of men. What an awesome responsibility that is. I think the biggest thing we can do as Christian coaches is to live out our faith. They see us in the good times and the bad, and how we react in those situations is big.