Newest Brainerd Coach Brian Gwyn Facing Big Challenges

Panthers Looking For Better Things After 1-9 Campaign In 2012

Friday, August 16, 2013 - by John Hunt

Brian Gwyn didn't hesitate when he heard about the opening for a head football coaching position at Brainerd High School.

Gwyn grew up in Atlanta and was working as an assistant coach at Carver High School when he found out about the Brainerd job and he jumped at the chance.  He has 16 years coaching experience and even spent four seasons at Morehouse College, so he knows from experience what some of the challenges are that he's facing.

Now almost three months after showing up at the school on North Moore Road, the soft-spoken 38-year-old former UTC receiver who played under head coaches Buddy Nix, Tommy West and Buddy Green is working toward putting a team on the field that is competitive and one that will bring back the pride that has been a trademark at Brainerd for so long.

"I'm still trying to adjust to life in Tennessee again," Gwyn said after an early-morning class on Thursday.

"The opportunity and the potential we have here is the main thing that got my attention.  We have the athletes.  My motto is 'Discipline, Structure and Organization.' It's going to take time and the turnaround won't happen in a day, but I feel confident that we can turn things around here.

"The younger kids are buying into our philosophy, but we're still getting to know each other as we're still in that feeling-out process.  Not only are we wanting to change them physically into football players, we're also working to change the mindset.

"Our goal is to be able to put 11 players on the field who can tie their shoes," the bearded Gwyn said matter of factly.

While the enthusiastic coach didn't get here soon enough to conduct spring practice in May, he's had his nose to the grindstone ever since.  His team has 45 names on the roster, which is more than double from last year.  Still more will appear when the younger JV players get started next week.

"There is still a whole lot of work to be done, but we have some guys who can make an impact.  It's a matter of us getting on the same page, but I'm not going to lower my expectations or standards," the fellow who also teaches freshmen English added.

Quite a bit of construction and renovation has been taking place at Brainerd in recent months.  While all of the changes are way past due and will greatly enhance all of the programs for the Panthers, it's been a headache and in general, an inconvenience for the coaches and athletes as a whole.

"It's been a huge inconvenience, but we're trying to make a smooth transition," Gwyn said, knowing that Brainerd will open its season at home next Friday when they host the Ooltewah Owls.

"We only have eight seniors on our team, but that's more of an advantage than a disadvantage.  Those eight have had three head coaches in the last four years, so they've been through it all.  We're still dealing with all kinds of challenges as I'm a coach, Dad and mentor to these young men.  I'm like a doctor who's on call all the time," he said as a grin crept across his face.

Brainerd is blessed with an abundance of good athletes, but many of these young men work to help ends meet at home.  Gwyn feels good because most of them want to do both and are making the necessary arrangements to make it happen.

"It's just another battle we face, but I just try to keep an even keel.  They're starting to conform to my expectations.  I want them to know that being a good football player starts long before they hit the practice field in the afternoon.  It's what they do from the minute they wake up and the way they carry themselves during the day.

"We just want to put a team on the field that will be respected by other teams and one we can all be proud of," the coach concluded.

(Email John Hunt at nomarathonmoose@comcast.net


Austin Hatch To Speak At McCallie's Dr. Pepper TEN Classic Luncheon

Austin Hatch will bring his inspirational story of survival and perseverance to the McCallie School on the afternoon of Feb. 3, 2017, as the featured speaker at the Mountain View Auto Group Luncheon for the second annual McCallie Dr Pepper TEN Classic basketball showcase. Hatch survived two plane crashes before graduating from high school — one in 2003 that killed his mother ... (click for more)

Three Bryan Lions Named All-Americans

The trio of Rafael Mentzingen, Jordan Dunstan, and Charlie Clarke helped make history for the Bryan College Lions Men’s Soccer team as the largest group to earn All-American honors from the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, and Mentzingen’s second team distinction marked the only the second time in history and first time in 39 years that a member of the Bryan Lions ... (click for more)

County Schools Prepare To Set Priorities For Next Round Of School Building Funding

County school board members are gearing up to set priorities for the next round of new school construction in Hamilton County. Lee McDade, assistant superintendent, said officials may know by the spring how much money will be available to build new schools or add on to existing ones - or do a combination of both. Board member Rhonda Thurman said a proposal to build a new Chattanooga ... (click for more)

Walker County Will No Longer Have Full-Time County Attorney Under Whitfield Tenure; Will Add Full-Time Communications Director

Incoming Walker County Sole Commissioner Shannon Whitfield said under his administration there will no longer be a full-time county attorney. "We will outsource this service on a fee basis," he said. Mr. Whitfield said he has begun interviewing attorneys who might be able to help out the county from time to time. Don Oliver has long been the county attorney for Walker County ... (click for more)

Vehicle Emissions Testing Causes More Pollution Than It Prevents - And Response

While a noble cause to make sure vehicles are operating efficiently with the minimum amount of pollutants, a simple analysis makes it somewhat evident the VET program in Chattanooga causes more pollution that it prevents.  Though I don't know how many vehicles are tested on an annual basis, if you assume an average round trip of 10 miles to the nearest testing station (five ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Our Senseless Divide

If I could change one thing about the schools in Chattanooga, my wish would be that everybody could become good friends. I’m talking about the private schools versus the public schools. The rancor is so bad we hardly ever play in sports anymore and what the loathsome TSSAA has done in recent years to the out-numbered private schools is sinful. My dream would be that there would ... (click for more)