Brad Garrett grew up in the Glades, played and coached football at a high level and won a lot of games.
Monday, he was introduced as the new head coach of the Clewiston Tigers football program, a place where winning is not a hope, but an expectation.
“It is a huge opportunity,” he told The Clewiston News, “A lot of coaches are in this profession for years and never get the opportunity to be a head coach. The opportunity in Clewiston is great and there aren’t many opportunities like this.”
Garrett was a winner when he played quarterback for Glades Day in 2000-2002, went on to play safety at Quincy University in Illinois, coached there for one year the defensive backs and special teams, and was part of two state championship teams when he helped coach Glades Day between 2009-2012.
He has helped coached at Clewiston High School since 2011 and has seen first-hand the top notch talent, and the unprecedented community support for the football program.
“All small schools’ football is the same, it’s kids caring about it and wanting to win. It’s a lot different than big schools because at small schools everyone is close.”
Garrett applied for the head coach job when Pete Walker retired after spring football. He said Walker was a father figure to him and a man he greatly respected. He said he wants to continue the proud tradition Walker was able to continue in the past four years.
“It was sad news when he decided to retire. I tried to emulate him and worked with him for 10 years. He tried to hold players to a certain standard. He tried hard to make the kids understand how important this place is, and how important it is for them to handle and carry themselves well in the community. We want them to not only become better football players, but become better men, each day. If they do, the sky is the limit for them.”
His expectations for his first season begin with hard work. He wants the kids to care about what they are doing. “We’ve been so close the last couple of years in getting to where we want to be. We definitely have some parts in place to be a very good football team. It will be about how much work they put in, and how much they want to work.”
Clewiston will be in a new district this year as they moved up to Class 5A. Other teams in the district include Immokalee, Dunbar, Lely, Cypress Lake, and Mariner.
The Tigers will bring back offensive linemen, most of the run game, and several defensive starters from last year. They will have a new quarterback as Chasman Ware won the job in spring practice.
Kla’Menta Jones has received offers from several Division I programs including Tennessee, and will be a huge weapon at slot receiver.
“Each place has its own tradition and something special, but Clewiston is well known and has an aura about its football, that a lot of people know about it. North Florida knows about Clewiston football. This is one of the jobs out there that most coaches would love to have,” Garrett added.
Garrett also knows there will be pressure to win. He said he knows the community, the program, and its boosters really care about success. He said the current players and the past players play a huge part in the success of the program and how far they can build it back to a state power. “We have a lot of younger players on the team that were able to contribute in the ninth and 10th grade. Now they are upper classmen and if they have their mind right, and the right attitude, I don’t see why we can’t contend for a state title. We should be able to make noise with what we have.” The expectations to win, the grueling summer heat, the arduous weight room work, are all difficult, but the poker faces of the search committee might have been the most intimidating part of the search process for Garrett. He said that was a toughest interview he ever had.
“They all looked at me with no expression and you don’t know what to say, it was intimidating. Everyone in that room care and wanted to make sure it was the right fit. A lot of them have been involved for 30 years and the football program means something to them.”
Mr. Sanchez wanted to thank the search committee members, Joe Whitehead, John Polhill, Dr. Robert Egley, Melissa Carter, Miranda Waddell, Al Morrell and Phillip Summers.