To put it lightly, he's energetic
Nick Johnston, Hartselle Enquirer
He doesn't have the plaid coat like Wimp Sanderson or the slick-backed hair like Pat Riley, but Johnny Berry is just as demonstrative.
Berry, the Hartselle High School head basketball coach, is known for running the sidelines as well as working the officials.
Oh yeah, he has a pretty good basketball team, too. His Hartselle Tigers are 6-2 with a runner-up finish in one of the biggest Thanksgiving Tournaments in the state.
"We have a very special team here," Berry said. "I'm so proud of them and I want good things to happen for this team."
While watching his Tigers play, many can't help but get wrapped up in his coaching antics. He's always moving and barking out instructions. If there were anywhere else he would rather be, it's the court with a jersey on.
"I'm not going to dive on loose balls," he said. "But, I'm going to be working the officials. They (his team) know I'm there for them. It's an emotional game. You pour your heart into it and it means something to the kids and it means something to me."
His hard-nosed attitude on the court is in contrast to his laid-back demeanor in his office. Berry said his attitude toward the game goes back to high school.
"My high school coach was a pretty intense guy," he said. Berry graduated from Lexington High School where he played for Wayne Bailey. "A lot of what I do comes from him. He was a really good role model for me when I was coming through high school and is one of the reasons I got into coaching."
Berry's energy level rivals a five-year old who just finished the last drop of a 20 ounce Jolt Cola. Again, he said that comes from Bailey.
"He was real energetic; a real player's coach," Berry said. "We saw how hard he worked for us, and we wanted to work just as hard for him. That's become my philosophy. I want the kids to know I'm going to be there for them."
Berry, unlike some coaches, has a line he will not cross.
"I don't use any profanity or anything like that," he said. "For the most part, I just get a warning. I can only think of about five technical fouls I've got. They (the referees) know I'm working for my kids. If I step over the line a little bit, they push me back.
"As long as I don't show them up, they're pretty good about it."
Added depth coming Friday
The Hartselle Tigers' loss to Russellville Friday night in the Class 5A Football Playoffs has one good side-effect – Berry now has the services of four football players.
Brett Byford, Nikita Stover, Tron Meadows and Brad Lett all played football, but will now trade in their cleates for high tops.
"It's going to add a lot more depth," Berry said. "They will give us some more options."
Berry was especially high on Stover, a standout wide receiver/defensive back for the football team.
"We can do so many things with Nikita," he said. "He's so quick, and a great athlete."
Byford will give size to the lineup, standing at 6-4.
"Brett creates problems just because he's so big," Berry said. "He gives us another element.
Meadows and Lett will play pivotal roles coming off the bench.
Nick Johnston can be reached at 773-6566