Coaching is more than a job, coaching is a gift; a lifelong commitment, to a group of students whom you share life with as they progress through their ups and downs. For 37 years Coach Dennis Brantley went on this coaching journey with hundreds of students, but now it is time to say goodbye. Brantley will be retiring at the end of the school year from his position as head football coach and campus athletic coordinator.
Brantley graduated from Worthing High School in 1980 where he was both a football and track star. He not only set the school record for the 110-meter hurdles but he also set the state record with a time of 13.34 which still holds to this day.
Brantley went on to be unbeaten his entire junior year in the 110-meter hurdles and only lost one race in the 300-meter hurdles that year at state where he took second. In his senior year, Brantley was unbeaten in both the 110-meter hurdles and 300-meter hurdles.
“I always played football and ran track. I even played basketball for a while. People don’t know that I set the state record for the 110-meter hurdles in my junior year then broke it again my senior year,” said Brantley.
Six years later, Brantley found himself coaching at McAuliffe Middle School in Fort Bend ISD where he served as an eighth grade assistant coach, coaching, football, basketball and track.
“Ever since elementary school, I always knew I wanted to be a coach,” said Brantley. “My high school coach Oliver Brown, made a big impression on me and I just wanted to do the same thing for other kids. He instilled confidence in me. He told me that I could do anything that I wanted to if I was willing to put in the work. He believed in me so much, I didn’t want to let him down.”
Brantley became one of the first coaches at Thurgood Marshall High School when it opened in 2002. Starting with only a freshman and sophomore class, Brantley played a vital role in serving as both head football and head track coach. In 2005, the Buffaloes won district in football and did the same in track the next year.
In 2008, Brantley became the Elkins High School offensive coordinator and then head football coach in 2011. Under Brantley, at one period of time, Elkins was one of the top schools in the nation with former players in the NFL.
“During my time there, we had seven kids that were active on an NFL roster at one time. The talent was there, we just instilled some discipline, accountability and some respect,” said Brantley.
Brantley believes coaching is only half about winning. The other half is about teaching young men to be better in life. Brantley reflects on those whom he can’t forget because they heard the message and ran with it.
“I’ll never forget Tyrone Smith. He went to Baylor University and then played for the San Francisco 49ers,” Brantley said. “Now, he is a minister, volunteer coach and motivational speaker. Another is Shannon Rideout who is now presently the assistant athletic director at Fort Bend ISD. I coached him from junior high all the way through high school. He is also a man of God that helps the kids. That’s what I’m proud of. They heard the message and took it further. They are good human beings, good family men, giving back to other young men in our society.”
Although this may be the end of Brantley coaching at the capacity he once did, it’s hard to stay away from the gift.
“I’m hoping to coach again, but I don’t know at what capacity. I’m just going to try to sit back and relax a little bit and see what direction the Lord takes me. I just love coaching.”