Spotlight: 2018 Fayette Academy Varsity Football Team
“I want to talk to you about the boys.” Vic Shivers looks up from his computer, crosses his arms across his chest and smiles. Shivers is the head coach of the Fayette Academy Varsity Football team, a group of 38 hard-hitting boys from Somerville, TN. “What do you want to know?” he says through his trademark grin. “I want to know all about them, ranked number two in the division, a winning season. Everyone can feel there is something different about this team.” Coach shifts in his chair and after a long pause says, “They are different, in my 19 years of coaching this team is one of the best if not the best group of boys I have ever coached. They are physical, smart, amazing work ethic; they are mature, great character and the player/coach relationship, well it’s something special” he continued, “It’s like having 38 sons.”
Coach has been watching this group of boys for several years now. He, along with the other coaches knew in middle school that they would grow into a remarkable team. This year isn’t their first winning season, or second, in fact, it is their third in a row. Each year growing more cohesive, stronger, smarter. All building up to this year, which has drawn attention throughout the division and the metro area. The Vikings were on everyone’s lists of teams to watch, and they haven’t disappointed. Senior Reid Holland is going into his last conference game before playoffs with 56 career touchdowns, and quarterback Rube Scott Rhea has over 1000 passing yards and over 1000 rushing yards, a record for the school. While athletic talent is apparent, I wanted to know what was going on behind the jersey.
“They are different, in my 19 years of coaching this team is one of the best if not the best group of boys I have ever coached. They are physical, smart, amazing work ethic; they are mature, great character and the player/coach relationship, well it’s something special”
For a team known for physicality and endurance, The PowerHouse is the natural hub outside of the locker room. Walking through the doors I am greeted by familiar racks of weights and benches line the walls, laminated paper taped to each station listing sets and maxes. I can see the emphasis placed on ‘keeping your house in order,’ surprisingly organized, each tool placed back in its’ designated home. At the far wall, a whiteboard reads “Viking Football.” Lettered out in bold across the top is Bench, Squat, Deadlift, 40, Pro Shuttle, and GPA. Coach elaborates on the choice to include GPA on the goal board, ” We tell them daily that their character and grades are what makes them exceptional. You don’t know when you are a freshman what your athletic physique will be as a senior. We tell them, you want to play collegiate? Then you need the grades. If you don’t play collegiate. Then you need the grades. Regardless, we are molding young men of character. Their grades, their character in the classroom, these are the goals we want to highlight. We want them to be exceptional on the field, but off the field is what will make the man.” It is a lesson this group of young men has taken to heart. 21 of our 38 Vikings have a GPA of 3.0 or higher: seven with 3.0 – 3.49, nine with a 3.5 – 3.99, and five with over a 4.0! Scanning the names on the 30+ Club roster, a school club whose members have scored a 30 or higher composite or subtest score on the ACT, you will see many of the same names that appear on the Friday night roster.
21 of our 38 Vikings have a GPA of 3.0 or higher: seven with 3.0 – 3.49, nine with a 3.5 – 3.99, and five with over a 4.0!
Every Thursday the team gathers for player-led devotion, it’s just another way they emphasize, “There are a lot of other things in life more important than football.” Coach continues to tell of a particular Thursday that was led by a freshman on the team, “he did a great job,” all of the boys supported and engaged with the devotion. Another indicator of the cohesion felt in the locker room. Every member of the team is supported and valued. “You create a special bond with a small roster; every group is working alongside each other. Linemen talk to the receivers, defense to offense”. They are a tightknit group, “just a fun group to be around.”
The school feels the same way about the boys; you can feel the pride for “Their Viking boys” on and off the field. Something that the team recognizes and appreciates. They love their Viking family too, on game days you can catch them at drop-off line in the morning, kneeling to high-five a little Viking fan or gently placing a backpack on a preschooler. You may see a red jersey duck in to read to a class or visit a lab to wave and encourage the younger students. It’s in these acts that you see just what Coach Vic has been pointing to the entire time. ” We are the same coaches we have been. The difference is in them. These kids, they made us better. We are better coaches because of them. They aren’t satisfied with average.”
As the playoffs approach the list of goals the team laid out at the beginning of the year has come down to one final item. They have their winning season. They made it to the playoffs, they secured the first round bye, and now there is just one goal left they hope to accomplish. They can be sure we will be watching and cheering them on, proud to be Vikings.
“There are a lot of other things in life more important than football.”