FYFFE — Editor’s note: This is the 15th installment in a question-and-answer series with DeKalb County coaches, taking a look at their playing journeys and their coaching experiences. In Part 15, The Times-Journal interviewed Fyffe football coach Paul Benefield.
Q: How long have you worked as both an assistant coach and a head coach?
A: Eleven years as an assistant and this will be my 29th year as a head coach. I’ll be starting 40 years.
Q: What are your high school and collegiate alma maters?
A: Fyffe High School and Jacksonville State University.
Q: What was your playing career like?
A: Not very good. Very, very average. I played all through high school.
Q: What led you to coaching?
A: I don’t if I was led to coaching or coaching was led to me. I don’t know which one, but you start out just trying to get a job and you’re more likely to get a job if you coach. I’m very competitive, so I guess I needed it for my competitive juices to survive. I’m very competitive but I didn’t think it would lead me in the direction it has. I was going to retire at 51. Now I’m 61.
Q: What was your first experience getting involved in coaching?
A: Somebody asked me to volunteer to coach a little league baseball team and I did. When I was in college I helped some with the school and came to Fyffe. I was an assistant coach for seven years, then I went to Plainview for four years. I was head coach at Sylvania for five and this will be my 24th year here at Fyffe. Man, that’s unbelievable to say.
Q: Who are some of the coaches who have most impacted how you instruct your athletes?
A: I sort of found my own way, but I’ve admired coach Bear Bryant my whole life, coach Vince Lombardi. But I don’t feel like I’ve really copied anybody. I’ve just tried to work the kids hard and treat them all the same.
Q: What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
A: I hunt and fish. It seems like I read a lot these days. I have a log cabin and I cut a little firewood when I’m able — I guess that’s a hobby. I can quit when I want to, so I guess that makes it a hobby. My wife and I travel. We go all over the country to concerts and ball games. We go to (Atlanta) Falcons games a lot and Major League Baseball games. I’m a bit of a history buff too. I used to teach history.