Good Coach Hunting Rebel assistant has the ‘it’ for relating to players
By John Brice | (email@example.com)
Coach Derek Hunt remembers the first time, well, that he was referred to as “Coach Hunt.”
Funny, it’s the same time George Quarles looked at his then-starting quarterback and saw a future coach.
Years ago when the nine-time state champion coach Quarles initiated an area football camp with the help of the Maryville-Alcoa-Blount County Parks and Recreation, Hunt volunteered to assist his head coach and mentor.
“The first year that they held that camp was my junior year; me and Tyler Maples volunteered to kind of help with it. I loved teaching things to the kids that I had already learned along the way or from coach Quarles,” Hunt said. “Getting to do some coaching and as a 15-year-old, it was awesome when Coach would say ‘Coach Hunt is going to run this drill’ or ‘Coach Hunt is going to teach you a three-step drop.’ I just loved that; that’s when I really started to get into coaching. And I haven’t missed that camp in seven years or however long it’s been since we started.”
Hunt also rarely has missed any Maryville games, from his youth to his time as a standout, title-winning signal-caller for the Rebels and now on staff. An offensive assistant for Maryville, Hunt will be on the sidelines tonight when the Class 6A, top-ranked Rebels (13-0) continue their championship quest at undefeated Siegel (13-0) in Murfreesboro.
“We do our quarterback/receiver camp at Parks and Rec, and you could just tell the way he interacted with the kids, whether it was the little ones or the older ones,” Quarles said. “They just responded to him. Plus he’s knowledgeable. But clearly at that time, I remember thinking he’s going to be a good coach if he wants to be one.”
A three-time state title winner from 2004-06 with a 30-0 ledger for the Rebels as a starter, Hunt now is the youngest coach on an esteemed Maryville staff saturated with former and future head coaches. Current starting quarterback Nick Myers has found Hunt an invaluable coach, friend and resource in this his first season taking the majority of snaps.
“When I was a kid watching him play out here, we knew who he was. Coming over here and coaching for us, it’s easy to relate to him because he’s been in these situations,” said Myers, who has blossomed in his debut campaign. “He’s always here to pick you up when you’re down, pick you up in film study, tell you when you’re doing a good job. Most of the time you’ve got people critiquing you but he’s one of those that’s going to be like ‘Hey, that was a nice job right there. Now maybe we need to work on this.’ He’s always there to help.”
Forging bonds and helping players grow are what drive Hunt as a coach. He remembers his own mentors on the Maryville staff and now takes pride in trying to replicate those life lessons to a younger generation of Rebels.
“For me that’s the whole reason that you coach anything; I just want to build relationships with those guys,” Hunt explained. “It’s fresh on my mind. I can remember very, very clearly being a 16-year-old high kid that had a role model on coaching staff. For me it was coach Quarles, coach (Mike) White and coach (Joe) Robinette. Just being around them every day it was awesome to see how they worked together, joked around and got stuff done at practice.
“That was a lot of my inspiration for wanting to coach, being around those guys and now it’s awesome getting to coach with them. I just think that’s the number one reason you get into coaching; building relationships with players. It’s not to win or have success — all that’s awesome and you want to do it — but the biggest reason is building relationships with kids.”
Quarles sees that skill-set and more in Hunt, whom Quarles says simply has that “it” factor.
“He’s positive but at the same time, he can get after them a little bit and they still respond. I’ve not seen many that close to them age-wise and there’s not much of a gap there, but they respond to him and there’s a respect there that just not many of them have,” Quarles said. “And I think that’s a gift he has. You can’t teach people that; he’s just got it.
“He’s a hard worker, he’s respectful. No matter what crowd he’s in, they just respect him and he can get along with people. I just think he’s one of those rare guys that has so many good qualities and we’re fortunate to have him.”