New head football coach replaces Graham Clark at DB

Michael Fanning, Staff Writer

In the city of Kingsport, there is a new name in the coaching world: Joey Christian. Christian has been an assistant coach to the football team for 15 years and now leads the team as the head coach for the Dobyns-Bennett Indians.

At an early age, Christian fell in love with the game of football. It has always been a part of his life.

“I grew up around here and was born in Hawkins County,” he said. “I actually went into sales for a little bit. Business and sales wasn’t right for me and it’s not all about winning or losing.”

Christian went to ETSU and played football there. Then, he moved to Chattanooga to get his master’s degree in education for business.

“My first teaching job was in 1997 and was at Volunteer High,” he said. “I then moved in 2003.”

Christian had a clear reason that motivated him to join DB’s football program.

“It’s the tradition, the pageantry of people coming together on a Friday night,” he said.

He also likes working with kids.

“Being with the kids is my favorite part of coaching,” he said. “I love interacting with young people.”

There’s also challenges to being the head coach.

“Finding kids that want to commit to the team is challenging,” Christian said. “We want people that want to commit for a year-round sport.”

Being the head football coach is a lot of responsibility. Christian feels that he struggles to manage time between football and family.

“Time commitment is an important part of coaching football,” he said.

Coaching comes with a lot of responsibilities and duties.

“It’s about guiding the program and being responsible for many things,” he said. “[I have to] lead it in many directions.”

The people of Kingsport feel very passionate about the game, and they often critique the coach’s decision. That doesn’t bother Christian.

“It’s part of it,” he said. “I think most people don’t understand the way football is played. It could be simple or it can be complex.”

Graham Clark, Dobyns-Bennett’s previous football coach, was very successful and popular. Christian understands the difficulty of filling Clark’s shoes.

“It’s tough to do,” he said. “He was a very successful coach and was liked by many. Clark led the program for a long time.”

On top of coaching football he also teaches some classes at Dobyns-Bennett High School.

“I’m one half of the business tech department,” Christian said. “I teach Intro to Business and Marketing and Business Management.”

Christian hopes that players will learn discipline from their time playing football.

“If you set a goal you can achieve it, and it’s something you will remember for the rest of your life,” he said.

Christian and his team have high hopes for this year.

“Our goal is to be conference champions and have something for people to enjoy on Friday nights,” he said.

He also has some advice for students that hope to play football for the DB Indians.

“Don’t put yourself in a box,” he said. “You can achieve anything you put your mind to.”

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