Travelin' With Joe: White Plains on Tyree time

·4 min read

Aug. 6—Editor's note: High school football practice has started, and Anniston Star Sports Writer Joe Medley has begun his annual round of preseason visits to all 12 football-playing schools in Calhoun County. Check The Star's Facebook page for live interviews each weekday. His columns and fun facts will also appear on The Star's website, social-media platforms and in print editions.

WHITE PLAINS — Coaches like to win, almost as much as they chase challenges. Replacing deep challenges with wins?

Let's just say winning at some places comes with extra satisfaction, and fourth-year White Plains head football coach Chandler Tyree has patience. More patience than some.

"I'm at White Plains and turned down other job opportunities to stay at White Plains, because I want to see something through," Tyree said. "It's not as easy, and I think it takes special kids to try to build a program and get to where some other programs are at in our region. I think it also takes special coaches to be at White Plains."

Some people might not see 10 wins in three seasons as progress, but progress is relative. White Plains won six games in the five seasons before Tyree arrived.

No one along Alabama 9 needs reminding that White Plains has made exactly one playoff berth in 50 varsity seasons.

Tyree has a small, dedicated staff. His Wildcats share a Class 4A region with Anniston, Cleburne County, Handley, Jacksonville, Munford and Talladega.

The biggest challenge Tyree faces, however, is history and the quick-trigger impact it can have on morale. To turn a program like White Plains' into a winner against the competition it plays takes time. Keeping interest high in the time it takes requires work.

Supporters need a reason to support.

Kids need reasons to play.

Until the wins come in the necessary bunches, it requires faith.

In Tyree, White Plains has an ordained Baptist preacher and one-time youth minister to boost faith. Anyone who's seen a video of his fiery pep talks knows that pulpit pep translates to the locker room.

Speaking of faith, Tyree's expressed willingness to turn down other jobs and see things through at White Plains is downright Bill Clarkian. It's not like Tyree, who played for Josh Niblett at Oxford, couldn't make calls and get gone.

Faith offered brings faith returned. Supporters of White Plains' program raised $50,000 for a weight-room upgrade that goes beyond replacing bent bars with straight bars. The White Plains-blue multiuse racks, complete with landmine attachments, ups the Wildcats' grind game.

"We've always had a good facility, as far as space," Tyree said. "To put in that new flooring, new racks, new benches, new bars, landmine attachments, dip attachments, new weights and all of that stuff, has helped us out tremendously.

"It's just because we're able to get more done in our weight room, and each rack is self-sufficient, but because when you see the kids walk in, and the pride that they have in what we have now and how they've taken care of it, and how they're ready to go at 6:30 in the morning to work out, that says all you need to say."

Tyree also needs kids to want to put on the uniform, and he's put energy into White Plains' uniforms. He's put White Plains in some of Calhoun County's best-looking uniforms, mixing gray to go with blue and white.

"A helmet or a jersey is not going to help you win a ballgame, but I'm a big proponent of 'look good, play good,'" Tyree said. "I'm trying to do everything I can to build support and to make a little noise for our program."

It all goes toward giving White Plains players something until that something can be enough wins to make history, not conform to it. That gets people talking, and Tyree wants people talking about White Plains into November.

Anniston, Handley and Jacksonville will likely take three of four playoff spots in White Plains' region.

"We want to be in that conversation at the end of the year for that last playoff spot," Tyree said. "We don't want to get to game five or game six and be out of the conversation for a playoff spot."

Sports Writer Joe Medley: 256-235-3576. On Twitter: @jmedley_star.