Farragut coaches adopt his perspective, transformed by his opportunities, encouraged by ‘hands-off’ approach
Buddy Fisher taught Eddie Courtney “how to keep things in perspective,” key advice on how to be a successful high school football head coach.
Mike Childress said coach Fisher “transformed my life,” giving one of his standout former players a job — as the Admirals’ defensive backs coach — which served as a starting point for that transformation.
Coach Fisher, Admirals football skipper from the 1987 through the 1995 seasons who compiled a 72-29 record including six playoff victories — while going 8-1 against rival Bearden — died Monday, Aug. 22, after a long battle with cancer. He was 75.
“I was able to visit with him the last six Saturdays in a row. … He was a real fighter,” Courtney, current Admirals football head coach, said.
“The biggest thing with coach Fisher, he taught me how to keep everything in perspective,” Courtney added. “Don’t get overly high and don’t get overly low. He said you’ll survive in this business a lot more years if you do that.
“He always was my friend. If I needed him I’d call him and we’d talk a little bit.
“I’m just glad I got to spend the years I spent with him.”
Childress, a standout free safety for coach Fisher’s first three FHS teams [Class of 1990], said he is “forever grateful” to Buddy.
After FHS, “I went to college, didn’t do well, ended up in the Army for three years, came back; I was a little lost,” Childress, current Admirals defensive backs coach, said.
“Fortunately, he gave me my first coaching job in ’95, got me started coaching,” Childress added. “He was kind of like a father figure, a second father to me. A great inspiration to me. He was always there helping me.
“And I got to hang around with him from ’95 to ’99 before I went and coached in Pennsylvania at Albright College, an NCAA Division III school,” where Childress served as strength coach and defensive coordinator.
He labeled coach Fisher “an incredible football coach and an incredible man. He could go out and coach any position on that field.”
Childress said coach Fisher would acknowledge his players, and what they did, away from the field. Often running into the coach at a movie theater, “the next week in the hallway he’d asked, ‘how was that movie?’” he said. “He was always engaged in your life.”
In addition, “He had a dry sense of humor,” Childress said.
Ben Lyle said he was eager to transfer to FHS for the 1987-88 school year as a junior varsity football coach and English teacher, knowing coach Fisher was the new Admirals skipper.
“He was a great person to work for,” said Lyle, a driver’s education teacher at FHS who served as Fisher’s varsity offensive coordinator from the 1989 through 1995 seasons.
“You knew that he cared about you. He gave you confidence to do your job,” Lyle added. “He didn’t look over your shoulder.
“He never had any confrontations with his coaches. He was a quiet, gentle person who dealt with things more on a one-on-one basis.”
Coach Fisher’s era perhaps is best remembered for a seven-overtime home playoff victory against Bradley Central in 1995.
“He told me toward the end of the sixth overtime, ‘Coach, when we score [a touchdown] in the seventh overtime, we’re running our [extra point] fake, because I’ve been watching how Bradley’s rushing,’” Lyle said about Buddy’s decision to go for victory with a two-point conversion attempt, which worked.