New coach takes charge of football team

PRACTICE RUN. New football coach Isaiah Spivey works with his team during an after school practice. Spivey came to Kingsport from Hawkins County, where he also coached football and baseball.

Katie Carmon

PRACTICE RUN. New football coach Isaiah Spivey works with his team during an after school practice. Spivey came to Kingsport from Hawkins County, where he also coached football and baseball.

Isaiah Spivey has recently become the football coach at Sevier Middle, as well as a new eighth-grade math teacher.

Spivey grew up in a small community in Gate City, Virginia called Manville.

“It’s just a little community; you probably won’t see it on many maps,” he said. “I’m just a small-town guy.”

Growing up in a small town meant Spivey became a fan of football early on.

“I grew up playing football in a football town and it saved my life,” he said.

Spivey has been playing football almost all of his life. He started playing when he was about five years old.

Spivey went through most of his life playing football, from middle school all the way until he played at Carson Newman University

He also played other sports throughout his school years.

“I played all sports through middle school, high school and college,” he said. “I was involved in everything. I played football, of course, baseball, basketball, played a lot of travel basketball and even went on to run track a little bit.”

In addition to coaching football, Spivey also has baseball coaching experience.

“I coached at Holston Valley Middle School in Sullivan County, which is a little south of Bristol, and then I’ve been in Hawkins County for the last seven or eight years,” he said. “Everywhere I’ve been, I’ve coached baseball and football. I just always tried to stay around the game.”

In addition to Spivey’s love of football, he also enjoys math.

“I’ve loved math my whole life,” he said. “Math kind of came naturally to me. I had a great math teacher in high school that really contributed to my love of mathematics and my passion for mathematics. So, I just thought the next best thing is, you know, be a math teacher.”

Balancing coaching and planning math lessons can be challenging.

“You’ve just got to be organized,” Spivey said. “You’ve got to be willing to sacrifice a little of your personal life for preparation, but as long as you’re organized, and as long as you’re willing to do that, and it’s something that you love to do, it’s really not that bad.”

Spivey is very passionate about coaching football and has high expectations for his players.

“I’m hard on my kids because I have high expectations,” he said. “I always tell the guys, if I stop coaching you, and I stop coaching you hard, that means I’ve given up. I am loud. I am, but that’s more of a passion, not anger.”

Of course, students who play football have to be fast, tough, and strong, but Spivey looks for other qualities in his players.

“I would take a guy that hustles and gives everything he’s got over a kid with talent any day,” he said. “The main important quality that I look for is a desire in the heart. Do they give everything they have? Kids have got to be able to work together, they’ve got to be disciplined, they have to be fundamentally sound.”

Spivey encourages all kids to pick up one or more sports throughout their school years.

“I think sports just teach you so many important qualities: discipline, toughness, having a competitive spirit, being able to work together as a team, and getting up when you get knocked down,” he said.

Sports, to Spivey, help prepare students for the real world.

“I feel it’s important that kids get out and compete, because in the real world, you’ve got to compete,” Spivey said. “You’ve got to go out there and you’ve got to work, you’ve got to get a job, and if you don’t get a job, somebody else beats you out for that job.”

Spivey wants to help kids succeed in life and teach his students and players important skills and character traits for their future.

“I’m just an old, long-haired country boy from Gate City, Virginia that loves to play football [and] likes to help kids get better,” he said. “Sometimes I can come off as abrasive, but I’m really not. I’m a tender-hearted guy.”