Bill Daniels coaches with heart.
An infectious energy allows him to be on the same page with young football players. In turn, he has repeatedly conquered the task of developing particular players into forces on the field.
A Fairview assistant since 2004, the defensive-minded Daniels is a true “players’ coach” as labeled by Eagles head coach Nathan McPeek.
“When he’s out there coaching, it’s like he’s flat out ready to play the game,” said former Eagle Daniel Armstrong. “If you can’t get pumped around coach Daniels, you shouldn’t play football. I get chill bumps when I talk about how he motivates.”
Daniels currently coaches the defensive ends, runs the defensive scout team and is the junior varsity defensive coordinator.
McPeek has headed up Fairview football since 2008. It didn’t take him long to take notice that Daniels — a guy who rides motorcycles and hunts in his spare time — had a knack for relating with players.
“As coaches, sometimes we get too focused on the X’s and O’s and getting ready for the next opponent that we sometimes forget about other things,” McPeek said. “(Daniels) is really good at that. He’ll ask how the kids are doing, how things are going at home.”
Armstrong said Daniels’ focus on fundamentals helps lay a solid foundation for a player’s growth.
McPeek agreed. He’s seen results first hand.
“There have been freshmen that we thought weren’t going to be players for us, but by the time they’re a junior, they’re a real player for us,” McPeek said. “(Daniels) is a big part of that.”
Daniels began coaching in the early 1990s at Boyd County, from where he played and graduated. Daniels was a center and defensive end in high school.
“I had some small school offers, but they wanted me to put on 70 pounds, and I was about 205,” said Daniels, breaking out into laughter. “I didn’t want to do that.
“Coaching was a way to stay a part of the game I love.”
Throughout the ’90s and early 2000s, Daniels coached at Boyd County Middle School and helped coach in Boyd County’s Junior Football League.
Daniels’ oldest daughter graduated from Boyd County, and his youngest is a freshman there. The 44-year-old’s little brother also went to Boyd County.
He also has two nephews who attended Fairview.
And for some reason, Fairview always had his eye.
“There was something about this little school,” Daniels said as he sat in the Eagles’ locker room on Monday.
In 1996 and ’97, Fairview didn’t have a football program.
Six seasons later, former Boyd County assistant coach Chad Tackett took over as Fairview’s varsity head coach.
Tackett and Tom Crisp, father of former standout running back Stephen, were major influences in Daniels’ move to Fairview. Stephen Crisp had played for Daniels at Boyd County Middle before eventually transferring to Fairview.
“(Tackett) knew I liked working with young kids,” Daniels said.
When Rex Cooksey took over the program in 2007, he asked Daniels to stay on board and he gladly accepted.
“I fell in love with the atmosphere,” Daniels said.
Daniels has been on the sidelines during some of Fairview’s best seasons in school history.
Crisp and Bradlee Jones each rushed for 1,000-plus yards as the Eagles went 9-3 in 2004, Daniels’ first season.
The Eagles have reached the regional finals in each of the past two seasons, finishing with records of 11-2 and 12-1 — the fall of 2011 was the school’s second undefeated regular season.
He’s also paid witness to the total revampment of Fairview Stadium, including bleachers, press box, locker room and scoreboard in the past two years.
“Just look around,” he said, scanning the field. “It’s tremendous how much success that’s been built here.”
Fairview is also off to a stellar start this season. The Eagles are 4-0 heading into Friday night’s contest at Greenup County.
But when asked about some of his favorite moments as a Fairview assistant, Daniels didn’t reply with a recountal of a highlight-reel play or a tale about a big playoff win.
“All that is awesome, it really is,” Daniels said. “But I get a kick out of coaching a freshman or sophomore, and then seeing that player succeed on Friday nights.
“It’s good watching the boys grow up to be men after football. The main thing is to see them succeed in life.”
AARON SNYDER can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2664. Look here every Tuesday for another installment of “Sidekicks” throughout the high school football
Ninth-year Fairview assistant has built reputation as players’ coach
Bill Daniels coaches with heart.
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