VALLEY HEAD — This is the 18th installment in a question-and-answer series with DeKalb County coaches, taking a look at their playing journeys and their coaching experiences. In Part 18, The Times-Journal interviewed Valley Head football coach Heath Vincent.
Q: How long have you worked as both a head coach and an assistant coach?
A: I’m beginning my 23rd year in coaching. Before that, I completed four seasons of volunteer coaching at Fort Payne when I was in college. So I’ve been around it for a while.
Q: Where did you play football in high school?
A: I played at Fort Payne and graduated in 1991. I played guard and inside linebacker. I was the runt of the defense. We had some big old boys back when I played and I was the smallest one, but I told them, ‘If you’re going to play and be small, you need to be quick.’ So I figured I could get around inside and could dodge those hits. I played football my entire career and I wrestled for two seasons. I really enjoyed that too and it led me to coaching wrestling for several years. I was a head coach at Dade County (Ga.) for a year. I was an assistant coach at Oak Mountain in Birmingham. I was an assistant at Fort Payne and I was a head coach at Fort Payne for two seasons of wrestling.
Q: What led you to coaching?
A: My senior year of high school was almost complete and we were about to graduate in May. We had spring training and we did it early. Coach (Jerry) Elmore asked me if I wanted to help with the junior high players. He asked me what my plans were and I said I didn’t really know. I went out there and coached them a little bit in the spring and the next thing you know I started at (Northeast Alabama Community College) and I continued volunteering to coach the junior high team for the next few years. That’s what led me into it and ever since then I’ve always leaned toward education and knew I wanted to be in the coaching field.
Q: Who are among some of the coaches who most impacted the way you instruct your players?
A: I’ve been fortunate to be with many great leaders. I’d say the most impactful person is the person who I have been with for most of my coaching career and that’s Paul Ellis. Coach Ellis gave me my first job when I got out of college. He hired me (as an assistant football coach) at Section. We coached together for three seasons. He hired me twice at Fort Payne. In my 10-year career at Fort Payne, coach Ellis hired me twice there. He influences the way I think in a lot of the ways I approach things.
Q: What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
A: If you follow me on Instagram, and a lot of my players and their parents do, they know that I do something kind of unusual. I like to get up in the mountains and go fly fishing. I don’t get to do it much during football season, and really it’s too hot to do it right now. But in the springtime, I’m generally finding some stream to fish from the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee up into western North Carolina.