By Kristin Finney
When it comes to leading a team, a coach can’t simply do the minimum and expect the team to do the rest. Some coaches attempt to lead by example, others lead their teams by inspirational pep talks and others do a combination of the two. Justin Sirmon has chosen to lead his team in both ways.
Sirmon was raised up in true Madison County fashion. From the time he was old enough to walk he has been around football. He began playing in Dave Galbraith Little League and continued playing continuously through middle school and high school. He has represented the MCCS Broncos, the junior varsity Cowboys and of course the varsity Cowboys.
He now has the chance to not only be a part of a team, but to lead them. Sirmon has joined former Madison Head Coach Frankie Carroll, and Coach John Sirmon, at Pelham City High School. The trio coaches the Pelham Hornets. Frankie Carroll is the head coach, John Sirmon is the Offensive Coordinator and Justin is the varsity offensive line coach.
When asked about the change from player to coach, Justin said, “It’s amazing how your perspective changes from a coach to a player. From a coaches’ perspective it is vital that your team is not just a group of guys, but a band of brothers. That’s why when I was at Madison Coach Carroll would always have the team over to his house to eat or take us all to church, to build relationships. A football team is a family. It doesn’t matter the skin color, background, or heritage. However, as a player I always looked up to my coaches as role models. They were father figures for me. That is something that I strive to be for my players. My players know that they can always depend on me for anything.”
Justin got the chance to coach at Pelham through Coach Carroll. He explained, “Upon his (Coach Carroll’s) resignation, he had always told me that when I finished playing for him he wanted me to coach for him. He interviewed at several different schools and received an offer from Pelham. He called me immediately after and informed me of the news. We had all been praying that Coach Carroll would find a place to call home. So, when he was hired he brought me along with him.”
In an attempt to make his players into a family, Justin not only leads them at practice, he also takes them out to eat, takes them to church and has also taken them to some of the Florida State University home games. “I spend between 25 and 30 hours a week with these guys. I am also taking 12 hours right now of college, and coaching at the same time. These two responsibilities do not mix well together. Being up all night studying game film, trying to find the opponents weakness isn’t exactly studying physical science. However, I knew this when I took the job an It is well worth it to me,” he said.
When asked how he tries to lead his players, Justin said, “The first and most important trait that I try and instill in my players is that God is greater than football. Sometimes that is easy preaching hard living. I share my beliefs with them on a personal level. Secondly, I try to make them a better man. That is what is wrong with this world today. Men wont step up and take responsibility. Football will force you to become a better man, husband and father. I try to use football as a metaphor for life. I always tell my guys: Football is life, life is football. They go hand and hand. I want my players to look back on me and be able to say that I had an influence in their life.”
“Being a coach, I have the greatest ability to impact my players lives. I enjoy coaching the guys who aren’t exactly the ideal weight and height but the guys that love the game, the guys that enjoy being a part of a team. I enjoy watching kids turn into adults right before my eyes. These kids have matured so much since I have started coaching them. However, it is nothing that I have done. These kids work extremely hard day in and day out. I also have the ability to lead my players to Jesus Christ. At the end of the day the number of men that I lead to Christ should be extremely more than the amount of football games I have won,” stated Justin.
Football is such a large part of Justin’s life, that when he was asked if he planned to continue coaching later in life he said, “I think it is safe to say that if football is in my past, it will certainly be in my future.” He describes football as his passion in life. “Football is a game that brings people together. You build lasting relationships that will last a lifetime. The guy that I played beside my entire high school career is still one of my best friends to this day. I know I could call him anytime and he will always be there for me. There is nothing like high school football. It is special. The small town atmosphere, the pep rallies, the parades is what separates high school football from the rest. Man if I could go back and redo high school I would. I believe football is not just a game, but a way of life.”
Justin is currently a sophomore at NFCC. He is finishing his Associate in Arts this semester and plans to transfer to FSU in January. While at FSU he hopes to study either Physical Therapy or Sports Medicine. He is the youngest son of John and Glenda Sirmon. He has an older brother John Sirmon Jr. and an older sister, Kristin Sirmon Woyak. Justin also added, “I would like to say that my family is my backbone in life. My parents have always encouraged me to follow my dreams and to rely solely on God.”
As for his future coaching plans, Justin said, “I would love to stay at Pelham! Pelham is an awesome community. I want to be here as long as they let me.”