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


Running A Lifesaver For Ryan Shrum

This isn’t your typical running feature story. We all know that every runner has a story.   Some are more interesting and amazing than others, but everyone has a different take on what running means to them and how it has impacted his or her own life. Such is the case with Ryan Shrum. Ryan has lived in Chattanooga since 1982 after spending his childhood in Indiana. ... (click for more)

Dalton State Men’s Cross Country In NAIA Top 25

The fourth Dalton State sports team has been recognized as an elite member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. Men’s cross country jumped into the NAIA Top 25 with the poll released Wednesday night. It took the season’s seventh poll, but the Roadrunners are now number 25. This marks the first ever national ranking in cross country. It is the team’s ... (click for more)

Downtown Chattanooga Apartment Complex Fetches $15 Million

Walnut Commons, the first downtown apartment complex built in many years, sold for $15 million, one of the developers said. John Clark said the initial estimate on the project was $11 million and it wound up costing around $12 million to build. "We're very pleased with the sale," he said. Mr. Clark, along with partners David Hudson and Bob McKenzie, are selling their stock ... (click for more)

Hamilton County Principal Ronald Hughes Named Tennessee's 2014-15 Principal Of The Year

A Hamilton County elementary school principal and an Anderson County supervisor have earned top honors for their work in Tennessee education. Ronald Hughes, principal of Apison Elementary School in Chattanooga, was named Tennessee’s 2014-15 Principal of the Year. He has served as principal at Apison Elementary for the past six years, and spent three decades working in Tennessee ... (click for more)

Congratulations To Ron Hughes

Hearty congratulations to Ron Hughes for being selected as Tennessee State Elementary Principal of the Year for 2014. Wherever Ron has been assigned as principal, he has exhibited strong leadership both academically and morally. His faith in God and his love for the students of Hamilton County have guided his actions and everyone that has benefited from the excellent education ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Brittany’s Days Dwindle

So here we are, facing what is known as “Devil’s Night” before Halloween comes, and the almost macabre news now comes that Brittany Maynard, the beautiful girl who has chosen to end her life as soon as Saturday, is struggling to meet her own deadline. She has inoperable brain cancer and, at best, only months to live. The 29-year-old, who was married shortly before her devastating ... (click for more)