Andy Dyer, the new head football coach at Archer, finished spring practice Thursday with players who will attend the new Gwinnett high school, slated to open in August. Dyer has spent the bulk of his football and baseball coaching career at Brookwood, his alma mater (Class of 1991), and Mill Creek, where he currently works. He and his wife Kim have two children - daughter Mary Lyn, 9, and son Andrew, 6.
In this latest installment of "Getting to Know...," Dyer talks with sports editor Will Hammock about starting the new program at Archer, his West Georgia football teammates and being married to a former Miss Brookwood.
WH: What made you want to start a new football program again? You just finished helping build one up (at Mill Creek).
AD: (Mill Creek) Coach (Shannon) Jarvis and I have laughed about that. It's kind of crazy to jump in and open up another new school. Every school is different. Every situation's a little different. The opportunity was there, Dr. (Charles) Buchanan offered me the job and I took it. Both professionally and as a husband and father, it was the best thing for our family, getting closer to home. It's a new community and it's the community where we live. I'm excited about it. We're going to run with it as hard as we can go.
WH: Have you always wanted to be a head football coach?
AD: It's been a goal of mine. I've been patient. I have not pursued a lot of opportunities. I wanted the situation to be right and not jump into one. I didn't want to be a head coach just to be a head coach. I wanted the right situation and the right timing for me personally and my family. Now I have that opportunity.
WH: Who are your mentors in coaching? Who are the guys you learned the most from, kind of pattern yourself after?
AD: I grew up at Brookwood, so Coach (Dave) Hunter, Coach (Ray) Allen, Coach (Mark) Crews, Coach Tom Jones were huge influences on me, not just as a player but also as a person and as a coach. Coach (Benjie) McLane, all those guys at Brookwood. I also some outstanding men as college coaches, Coach (Charlie) Fisher, Coach (Jeff) Farrington, who have now climbed the college ranks. I've had some great men, great coaches and great leaders to kind of show me the way.
WH: Brookwood's changed a lot since you left, right?
AD: Yeah, but it's still home. It's different, obviously it's bigger and they've done some reconstruction. As far as the fieldhouse and everything, it's still easy to go back over there and feel like I'm at home and fit right in. It will always be a great place for me.
WH: Do ever brag that you're married to a former Miss Brookwood?
AD: Yeah, I do. I make fun of my wife about that. We've got some pretty good pictures from the Miss Brookwood pageant.
WH: Did you two go to school together growing up?
AD: We went from elementary school at R.D. Head to Five Forks (Middle) and of course Brookwood. She went to Georgia and I went to West Georgia, so we went to two different colleges. And she was a year ahead of me.
WH: When do you start dating?
AD: I was a sophomore in high school and she was a junior, so that would have been 1988.
WH: Do you remember your first date with her?
AD: Yeah, we went to Chili's and to see the movie "Stealing Home," a baseball movie.
WH: It was love at first sight for her, right?
AD: Yeah, right. That one took awhile.
WH: Did you stay together throughout college?
AD: Yeah, we did. She would come back and forth to my ball games. It probably saved me a lot of money. I didn't have to worry about going on dates in college. I just played ball, went to class, played golf and fished.
WH: What happened when Coach Hunter tried to make you a quarterback? Coach Hunter said that didn't work out.
AD: (Laughing) I could have played quarterback. I just chose not to.
WH: He said he couldn't get you to do anything but run with the ball.
AD: The object is to score touchdowns and I figured that was the quickest way to get to the end zone. Just take it and run.
WH: How did your college career go? You played all four years at West Georgia, right?
AD: I played a year of baseball and four years of football as a defensive back. I had a great experience. Some of my closest friends now and guys I played with in college are now coaching here in Gwinnett County. (Mill Creek offensive line coach) Josh Lovelady was my roommate in college. John Small, the head coach at South (Gwinnett). I wouldn't trade it for anything.
WH: What were Lovelady and Small like in college? John was pretty intense, wasn't he?
AD: John was pretty intense. He's very intense when you're competing but he's also a clown. He's a funny individual. Coach Lovelady was a very good football player. He's all business when it comes to football. He had a great career at West Georgia.
WH: Lovelady was a wide receiver, right?
AD: Yeah, not hardly.
WH: Do you have many football injuries that bother you?
AD: Those of us that played that long have different things that bother us, whether it's shoulders, backs or knees. But I was very fortunate not to have any major injuries. I dislocated a shoulder, some things like that. But nothing major.
WH: What happened to your elbow?
AD: I did that my first football game I ever played when I was 11 years old. I broke my elbow. I shattered it. Just put my arm down to break my fall. Instead of breaking my fall, it broke my arm. I was out about seven weeks, played the last game of the season.
WH: But you came back?
AD: I came back and played. My mom wasn't too crazy about it. But I did it.
WH: Football's always been a part of your life. Did you always want to coach it?
AD: I did. When we were in college and deciding on a major, a couple of things crossed my mind. But I didn't have the passion for any of the other choices that I did for teaching and coaching. It's a tough job. It's a tough road. It's long hours and it can be a grind. But at the same time the rewards are very valuable. They're great. Just to see kids be successful and see them grow into young men.
WH: Do you see yourself doing this coaching thing for 30 or 40 years?
AD: I do. I'm almost halfway through my teaching career. Unless something crazy happens, I see myself doing it until I'm in my 50s. Then I plan to fish for the rest of my time.