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John Flath has already made his mark

By Walter Geiger I was immediately impressed back in the spring when John Flath was introduced as the new head coach of the Lamar County Trojan football team – their third in three years. That sort of situation is a hardship that players must deal with that is out of their control. It is a case of adult actions hurting kids – an age old issue. I have been covering LC football since 1979. I am now covering the grandchildren of the players I started with. I have seen a lot of Lamar coaches come and go. A very few were stellar. Most were not. A few amounted to abysmal hires – again, poor adult decisions. In my estimation, that won’t be the case with John Flath. Hired in April, the new coach and his wife Megan moved here over the summer from Lakeland, Fla. He put together a staff and started working area parks to find talent. That is a big job but there was another issue. Back in Florida, Flath’s mother, Maureen, was in declining health in a nursing home. She battled Alzheimer’s among other ailments. John and Megan finally got her transferred to Brightmoor in Griffin a few weeks ago where her decline continued. Flath’s Trojans debuted Friday night with a scrimmage out at Trojan Field. A surprisingly large crowd was on hand. I took a few photos but I mainly watched, trying to pick up on this coach’s style and the team chemistry which is so very important. I immediately noticed that Flath called plays without benefit of a play chart. He wore no headset. He just coached. I have not seen that in a long time and it may change but I was impressed with him and his team’s effort. I became even more impressed later. Just hours before the scrimmage, Maureen Flath died. Still, her son was on the field with his new team. After the scrimmage, he told his players of his mother’s death and added something like, ‘There is no place I would rather have been tonight than on this field with you.’ He later told Laura and I that his mother and grandmother taught him to work and they would have wanted him to be on that field Friday night. That is a man of character and conviction. That is a leader of young men. That is a man who can build a team – a championship team. The powers that be should be should respect that, respect stability and refrain from more selfish adult decisions that hurt kids. Leave this man alone and he will build a championship program. Even more importantly, he will mold young men in his own image and that is one heck of a mold. LC fans should also be patient. This is a young team. Flath has a lot of skill people to work with but not very many linemen. That will change. A coach like this will attract players. Be supportive of the coach, his staff and the players. Don’t coach from the stands and hold those tongues. Stay positive. Encourage don’t discourage. Great things are on the horizon. Note: This opinion piece was published in the 8.8.17 print edition of The Herald Gazette.

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