Staff Photo: Christine Troyke Darrell Bryant is the Archer Touchdown Club president.
Darrell Bryant is the president of the Archer Touchdown Club and has been since the school opened in 2009. In this installment of "Getting to Know ...", Bryant talks to staff writer Christine Troyke about a variety of topics, including starting a booster club from scratch, finally getting a car big enough for his 6-foot-6 frame and a talent for making barbecue.
CT: How did you end up as Archer's Touchdown Club president?
DB: Well, I go to church with a gentleman whose wife works with Coach (Andy) Dyer's father.
CT: (laughing) OK.
DB: Actually, I went to the organization meeting we had back in February of the year the school started in '09. I had done charity golf tournaments before. I had a good friend of mine pass away 17 years ago and we've done a charity tournament in his memory every year, the Frank Foster III Foundation. We've done that over the years so I've kind of become proficient with golf tournaments and what's expected out of them. After the meeting, Coach Dyer asked if there was anybody who had involvements in golf tournaments and things of that nature. So I approached him and said, "Look, I'm pretty busy with my job right now, but I'd be glad to help you out with the tournament." Lo and behold, not only did I help out with the golf tournament, pretty much he and I organized the first tournament, kind of our first hoorah. We were at the golf course one day, meeting with the golf pro, and as we were leaving, Coach Dyer said, "I've got a question for you. Would you be willing to head up the Touchdown Club?" I looked him square in the eyes and said, "Coach Dyer, I've been involved in a Touchdown Club. But I've never been in a position to run one." He looked me square in the eyes and said, "You know what? I've never been a head football coach before." I liked that, so three years later, here we are.
CT: What were the primary challenges of starting a booster club from scratch?
DB: The primary challenges were getting community involvement. Archer is unique in the fact that we don't have a city. Dacula's got Dacula. Central's got Lawrenceville. Grayson's got Grayson. Archer, we don't have a city that we can pull off of, one community. But I took that as there being an optimistic view in that we've got three. We can pull from Dacula, we can pull from Lawrenceville and we can pull from Grayson. It's been a tough nut to crack, because those areas are already committed to those other schools. But we're making headway. We're making strides every day. We just have to keep the rubber on the road and the ax to the grindstone.
CT: Much like the team itself. Building a team from scratch, you face a lot of the same numbers issues.
DB: You better believe it.
CT: How would you rate the progress over the last few years?
DB: It's been tremendous. The involvement of community, the involvement of parents. We've got the best involvement of parents ever this year. The community again, we're striving to get bigger, better, stronger. We do that with the kids, we have to keep continuing to do that with the booster club as well.
CT: Where there any things you were surprised by?
DB: I never knew the behind the scenes as to what it took to put an 8-AAAAA program in the works. With the things that the coaches need. The equipment. We've got a huge load to repay to the county. They've loaned us this and we're paying it back. But there's so many other things that are not included. I mean, we've got a state-of-the-art weight room that we've made huge improvements in. Our locker room is phenomenal.
You can't have a successful program without a successful weight program.
CT: There's really not an offseason.
DB: There really isn't. Football is a 365 sport, there's no question about it. These kids are in the weight room all the time. And you've got to be. Our strength coach, Josh Alexander, is phenomenal. He does a great job with the kids.
CT: Did you play football growing up?
DB: I played high school football, that's about it.
CT: Where did you grow up?
DB: In Decatur. DeKalb County. I'm a Towers High School graduate.
CT: What is your real job?
DB: I am an insurance adjustor, I work a lot of early, early mornings and late nights. So I have a very flexible job in that I've got to work my day job, there's no question about it, but if somebody calls and says they need something, if I have period between appointments, I can do something if it's asked of me. But, I mean, I can't forget about that. The Touchdown Club salary is pretty bad (laughing). But it's worth it. I don't do it for that. I do it for my love of high school football and the love of these coaches and these kids.
CT: Do you have any siblings?
DB: I have two brothers. One of them is in Conyers and one of them is in Gibsonville, N.C.
CT: Are they older?
DB: Yep. I'm the baby of the crowd and I always say that because I'm 6-6, my oldest brother is 6-8 and my middle brother is 6-4. So when we're all together, it's a pretty good sized clan.CT: That must have been some good backyard football then?
DB: That was, growing up, one neighbor had a fence, but the other neighbor did not. So our yard was kind of one side of the field -- whether it was a baseball field or a football field or whatever. It was always the neighborhood sports yard.
CT: Did you play other sports in high school?
DB: I played soccer in high school and played intramural when I was in college.
CT: Where did you go to college?
DB: I went to Georgia Southern.
CT: Did you know you want to get into insurance adjusting when you went off to college?
DB: My father was in the business. He's retired military and then his second career was in the insurance field. When I finished school, I was in the construction business and doing well. He said, "You need to use your degree." I called for an interview on a Sunday afternoon and, lo and behold, the next day I was sitting in an office interviewing in a suit and tie. At the end of the week, I had a job offer. So I was very fortunate. I've been with them for working on 23 years.
My first three years, I lived in four different states. They moved my around a lot and then I moved back here in 2000 to the metro Atlanta area.
CT: What places did you live?
DB: North Carolina, Tennessee and Alabama. Greensboro, Knoxville and Mobile.
CT: Any major differences state to state?
DB: I would live in any one of those areas. We loved them. I'd move back to Mobile in a heartbeat if I had the opportunity. But I love this area. This is home.
CT: How did you meet your wife (Tammy)?
DB: High school. We dated in high school, all through college. We dated six years and we've been married 22 years now. She is also heavily, heavily involved in the booster club. If I didn't have her, I couldn't do it. She's my right-hand person. She's also been heavily involved with PTA. Was PTA president, sits on several boards. We're both heavily involved in the church.
CT: Did you have a part-time job in high school or college?
DB: Yeah, I worked at McDonald's. I worked at UPS.
CT: Loading or driving?
DB: Loading at the Pleasantdale location. But McDonald's was the main one. Of course I worked construction, and painted residential houses.
CT: What was your first car?
DB: My first car was a 1976 Chevy LUV pickup (laughing) and nobody can believe that I would fit in that car. That was in high school.
CT: How long did it last you?
DB: It lasted me all through high school. I got it when I was a junior and I sold that when I was a freshman in college.
CT: Got something else?
DB: A Honda Accord?
CT: What? (laughing)
DB: Two-door (laughing).CT: When did you get a big car?
DB: After that. I got a Chevy Blazer.
CT: What kind of music do you listen to most often?
DB: To be honest with you, I listen to a lot of talk radio. I like country. I like contemporary Christian.
CT: Are there any TV shows you try not to miss?
DB: Well, if you ask my kids and my family, they'd tell you "Cops."
CT: (Laughing) Well, it's on a lot.
DB: It is. I love to cook. I love to build. I'm big into the cabinet making when I have some spare time. But I love to cook also. I cook for these boys all the time.
CT: Any specialties?
DB: Uh, yeah. I do a pretty mean barbecue. I did it two weeks ago. I can smoke a pretty mean butt.
CT: (laughing) Well, that always goes over well here. You can't go wrong with barbecue.
CT: Do you have any favorite vacation spots?
DB: My wife and I, probably our favorite place is Manhattan. We go up there quite often. We'll always go see a play or two and people watch. We'll go for some great food and just kind of hang out. We don't do the touristy things anymore. She likes to go down to Chinatown and shop.
CT: Do you have favorite sports teams?
DB: Yeah, I'm a UGA fan. I pull for my Bulldogs whenever they're playing. I dearly love college football and I dearly love high school football. There's not many Friday nights you won't find me sitting in a stadium and a few Saturday afternoons. I've gotten to the point now that I'd just as soon stay at home to watch it as try to go to the stadium. But there are a couple of the SEC schools I still have to make. I hadn't made it to all the home stadiums.
CT: Which ones are still on the list?
DB: Arkansas and Mississippi State.
CT: What about the NFL?
DB: I'm a Falcons fan. I'm a hometown guy. I'm going to support my local guys.
CT: Did you think they were going to miss the season?
DB: Nah. I knew that stronger heads would finally understand what the big picture was. It was a lose-lose situation for both if they didn't come back.
CT: You'd think people would learn those lessons from previous experiences.
DB: Yeah. When they struck before I actually went to a scab game. Which was interesting.