For the first time in more than four decades, Vestavia Hills High School has a new head football coach: Sean Calhoun. Calhoun, 39, most recently served as the head football coach at Carrollton (Georgia) High School, where he compiled a 51-12 record over five seasons including three region championships and five quarterfinal playoff appearances. Here he shares some of his thoughts on stepping into the Vestavia program as longtime coach Buddy Anderson retires after becoming the winningest football coach in Alabama history in his 43 years coaching the Rebels.
You are taking over for Buddy Anderson. How does that impact your approach as you get started in this new role?
It’s exciting and a little nerve-wracking taking over a program that has been in such great hands for 43 years. I may have some different tactics, but when you get down to the basics of our program, the foundation coach Anderson has already laid is absolutely fantastic. That’s one of the biggest things that drew me to the Vestavia Hills football program. Fundamentally my ideals and values are the exact same.
What do you think of the competition here in Alabama?
Competition is not something I shy away from and that this team won’t shy away from. Every team has two things: good coaches and good players. That excites me because now we get to see how good our preparation is. What I expect from this team is to give 100 percent. I don’t think Alabama football gets talked about. You hear about Texas and Florida and Georgia and California talked about, but Alabama will go toe-to-toe with every team in every one of those states. I am excited to be a part of this rich football state.
What was it like for you to meet the VHHS team for the first time?
There was a really good excitement in the air. This team has a great nucleus and a great senior class. I told them to write down how they want to be as an individual, as a football player and as a team. I told them I can’t be the guy who wants to win more than they do. We have the pieces of the puzzle here, and it’s my job to move them around to make that product. It comes down to hard work.
You met Buddy Anderson not long after you were hired for this position. What was that interaction like for you?
It was an honor meeting him. I told him as long as he is comfortable with it I definitely need to use him as a resource. He has built this place, and people still need to see his face. He is a phenomenal human being, and a phenomenal coach. If you are at a place this long, you are doing a lot of things the right way. When my career is done, if I can even be in the same sentence or book as Coach Anderson, I have done a couple of things right.
Can you talk some about the importance of character in how you coach?
The first thing I told this team is that I am a Christian. I wanted my players and this community to know that that is big for me and my family. I want leaders to have character, not be a character. If you can’t do the right thing in the classroom, there’s no way in the world I can count on you on the field. I told the team if our best players are our best people in general we have a great chance of being successful.