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From the Bench: His Blood and Notebook Leads BHS Alum Brett Hathaway to Indians' Football Sideline

By Jeff Toquinto on August 27, 2017 from Sports Blog via Connect-Bridgeport.com

It was back somewhere in 2011 when Brett Hathaway was a student in John Cole’s history class at Bridgeport High School. The unassuming and usually quiet Hathaway was doing well in the class at Cole was pretty sure he knew why.
 
“Every time I’m lecturing, Brett has his head down and buried in his notebook; just writing away. It’s a constant every day in class and he’s got good grades so I’m thinking to myself that he really must be enjoying my class to take such detailed notes. What I was assuming was wrong,” said Cole with a laugh.
 
The first-year head football coach at Bridgeport High School ventured through the aisles one day as Hathaway feverishly wrote in his notebook. Cole casually glanced down and quickly learned that despite the good grades he really wasn’t full throttle into the class.
 
“He was drawing up football plays. I thought ‘you little son of a gun’ because I was so happy to see someone so into my class and I was wrong. The thing is that notebook didn’t just have one or two plays in them, but a whole bunch of them,” said Cole. “We joke with him at practice that if we need any plays we know where to go.”
 
The notebook still exists. And it actually had plays, said Hathaway, he began putting together back in middle school. 
 
“I remember drawing those plays up for a long time,” said Hathaway. “I guess depending on personnel we could actually use some of those plays.  To be honest, there are some plays that aren’t realistic and some that are. I may have to go back and find it to see what’s in there.”
 
What’s in the notebook may be a good topic for the future. What’s in Hathaway’s head right now is a mind focused on two things – coaching football and finishing college. He’s doing both on a full-time basis at the moment as he’s student teaching at Nutter Fort Primary now and will eventually student teach at Lincoln High School.
 
Cole said he knows it’s not easy.
 
“What he’s doing is a heckuva commitment,” said Cole. “My two toughest years in education involved student teaching and my first year as a full-time teacher. He’s  student teaching right now and I know that’s when you’re questioning yourself if you can do it so to take on this added responsibility, and believe there’s a big jump from volunteer to full-time assistant, says a lot about Brett and that commitment and ability to handle the stress coming with it all.”
 
Here’s the thing – Cole knows the commodity he has in Hathaway. The 2013 BHS graduate was a Class AA all-state selection in 2012 and a Class AAA all-state choice in 2011. He will be remembered as one of the hardest-nosed players in the program’s long and prestigious history for wins, numbers and the fact he played and produced hurt.
 
He also played smart. Cole knows, despite still just a few years removed from high school, Hathaway has the smarts to do what is being asked of him.
 
“He’ll be coordinating special teams and working with (defensive coordinator) Coach (Adam) King with the responsibility of signaling in the defenses,” said Cole.
 
Sound intimidating?
 
Not for the guy with the notebook. After all, his immediate family is well versed in football and, in particular, Indian football.
 
“My dad was big into football and II grew up either playing or watching constantly,” said Brett about his father Jeff who coaches the BHS freshman and assists with the varsity. “I also watched my brother (B.R.) play too. I started with flag football and six or seven, got into tackle in second grade and played all the way through high school. It’s what I love.”
 
And he wants to continue doing it. In fact, he said he ultimately would like to be a head coach.
 
“One of these days I would love to be a head coach,” Hathaway said. “It would have to be the right situation and the right school, but it’s something I’m interested in because of my love for the game and the fact that I’m still enjoying what I do even with the added responsibility this year. It’s important, though, because it’s hammering home how important discipline is and that’s important in football and all aspects of life.”
 
“It’s great to be able to coach here and I can’t thank Coach Cole and the administration enough to first let me volunteer and now have me as an assistant,” he continued. “I know Coach Cole well enough to know he wouldn’t want me here if I didn’t think I was responsible enough to do the job and to also be able to handle dealing with finishing college up.”
 
So can he handle that?
 
“If Brett Hathaway wants to be a head coach one day, then he’ll be one,” said Cole. “He’s got what’s needed. You could even see it as a player the intelligence he brought to the game as well as the other things you need to have success.”
 
Cole said there’s one thing Hathaway is having to adjust to and already doing a better job at. It’s one that may seem odd for a player that was an absolute wrecking ball on the football field.
 
“We know Brett’s intelligent and if you don’t know him he comes across as the quiet guy. Here’s the one thing he’s working and that’s learning to assert himself in a manner to get things across to players,” said Cole. “His first years assisting, he knew the players and they knew him. You get older and things chance and you want to make sure you’re assertive enough to that they know to listen. He’ll get that, I’m certain, and it’s not a concern.”
 
Hathaway is aware of exactly what Cole is talking about. He said he’s making the adjustment to getting better in that area daily.
 
“Every day I’m getting more comfortable on that front and getting my feet wet. When you’re volunteering, you may not be as involved with things that are scheme-related. When you’re full-time, you have to know what’s going on and, more importantly, how to get it across to the players,” said Hathaway. “I’m getting the balance there and it’s easier every day.”
 
Eventually, things will become easier for Hathaway. He was born to coach because it’s in his blood. And it’s also in his notebook.
 
Editor's Note: Top and third photo shows Brett Hathaway at practice this year, while the second photo shows Hathaway grinding out yardage during his time wearing the Indians' uniform as a player. In the bottom photo, his father Jeff, serving as an assistant coach, comforts Brett following his final game in the Class AA semifinals against Keyser. Photos by www.benqueenphotography.com.


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