Vincent says he#039;s not done at GHS

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 6, 2006

The turnaround of the Greenville High School football program has been something of a Cinderella story.

And the man instrumental in &#8220bringing it back” to Tiger football says his job isn't done yet.

Bryant Vincent, head coach of the Greenville Tigers and athletic director for the school, shared the inspiring story of his team with members and guests of the Greenville Lions Club Monday.

Vincent, who came into a program which had back-to-back 1-9 seasons before his arrival this year, carried the Tigers to a 10-3 season and the third round of the playoffs.

The tremendous turnaround amazed even Vincent.

&#8220I'll be honest. I told the coaches at the beginning of the season, I feel like we could win five or six gamesŠthen something happened,” the coach said.

&#8220I wish I had documented this season from the first day I took my staff on campus, right through the playoffs. It's been phenomenal, not just for the 10 wins, but for the change in the students.”

The coach said he had made an effort to get to know each of his players and learn about their backgrounds at the beginning of the year.

&#8220I asked them, ‘Who do you live with?' ‘What do they do?' Some of these kids, they don't really know their parents and they don't even have money for breakŠit's tough for them,” Vincent said.

The coach said he made sure each player understood they might not have control over their home environment, but that didn't mean they couldn't have control over their own behavior.

&#8220You are always going to have a few ‘bad apples,' but most of these are good kids. Giving them discipline and showing concern can make a real difference in their lives,” Vincent said.

The GHS coach, who spent three years as assistant coach at Spain Park in Birmingham, said, despite rumors, he had no plans to return to the big city environment to coach.

&#8220The kids at Spain Park drove nicer cars than I did; they went on European vacations during the summer. It was sort of a fairytale existence,” he recalled.

&#8220I ask myself, what can I do for those kids in Spain Park? I have a much bigger impact on kids' lives here in Greenville. I can be a sort of father figure to a lot of these guys, and that means a lot to me. I've still got things I want to do here.”

Vincent said a strong athletic program gives students greater confidence, self-respect and knowledge that can make them successful in life.

&#8220You learn you have bad days and good days, and when they are bad, you pick yourself up and go back to work,” Vincent said.

&#8220These kids are learning they can be successful and can move beyond the bad hand they may have been dealt in life. All kids need direction and to know someone cares about them.”

The GHS coach said he believed the high school's football program would continue to be successful, and the city of Greenville has much to take pride in concerning its athletic programs.

&#8220You know, it's not often a small town has two teams - Fort Dale and GHS - who both have a 10-2 regular season. That speaks well of both programs,” Vincent said.

As for the GHS coach, his long-term goal is a lofty one: &#8220I want to be the winningest high school coach in the state of Alabama.”

He added, &#8220I want the kids I coach to say on down the line, ‘I want to live in Greenville so my son can play for Coach Vincent.'”