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As part of a series of interviews that is conducting in 2018 with coaches around the Commonwealth, BGP had a chance to catch up with Robert Fleming, the new head football coach of the 2A Shawnee Golden Eagles.

Tell us a little about your coaching background - which schools you've been at as a head coach or as an assistant before you started at Shawnee? Which positions have you had personal experience coaching?

Coach Fleming: Football has always been a passion of mine. Prior to arriving at Shawnee 3 years ago, I was an assistant coach at Meyzeek Middle [Louisville] for 4 years as the offensive and defensive line coach. I have always really connected with the “Big Nasties” up front, the defensive and offensive linemen!

BGP: What was it that made you realize you wanted to be a coach? It's obviously not as easy a job to do in this day and age as it may have been in the past. Are there any particular individuals or coaches who pushed you to realize that it's what you wanted to do?

Coach Fleming: I’ve played the game since I was a child and I love it! After making the All District team my senior year [at Waggener] in ’93, I realized that coaching was something I wanted to do with my life. That realization truly hit home for me when my son La-Carl started to have a passion for this great game. I watched as he played, but felt like he was not getting the proper coaching to be the best he could be. Remembering my own great mentors that took the time to teach me proper technique, to set great examples for me and my peers, and who were great role models for me as I grew from a boy to a man, have continued to aid me on this path. Coaches Ernest Powell and Greg Jordan, along with many others over my course of growing, continue to inspire me daily. I feel it is vital that this younger generation gets proper life skills necessary to succeeding as young men, and then be shown the proper way to play football.

BGP: Are there any games in your coaching career, or even as a player or spectator of a high school game, that you look back at and think, 'Man…now THAT was a memorable game' ?

Coach Fleming: Because this is such a special game to me, no one game sticks out to me, all the games I have played and coach are special and memorable to me!

BGP: A lot of teams adopt some sort of motto or a mission statement for the program, or even for the individual program year? Does your team have one right now? Do you have a different motto for yourself as a coach?

Coach Fleming: The motto I have as a coach and for this team is simple, but deep, “Being Invested!” I believe that if these young men invest into this organization, the return they will see for themselves will be abundant!

BGP: f I were to ask your players - past or present - if there's one thing they hear you say the most, what do you think it would be?

Coach Fleming: The biggest thing I preach to these kids is “No Regrets!” Don’t look back on life and say to yourself I should have done this or that.

BGP: What is your approach to coaching your team knowing that you may have players walking onto the practice field who may not have any prior football experience at the same time as players who may have 7 or 8 years of football experience and coaching?

Coach Fleming: Fundamentals to me is key, with out the basics, no one will be successful. So I approach each kid the same, I focus on the fundamentals of the game and make sure they master it before we move on to the next part of the game.

BGP: What were the first two or three steps you decided needed to be taken when you took over the Shawnee football program?

Coach Fleming: The first step to me is to teach the fundamentals of the game to each player, making sure they know the game like the back of their hands, so we can have intelligent players on the field. and the second step to me is to teach these kids about the storied history of their school. I think its important for them to know how special this school is, and to have pride in wearing the gold and navy on Friday nights to represent our school proud. Shawnee has had a lot of successful men to come out of school, like for instance Kentucky State Senator Gerald Neal (Class of ’63) and Rudy Mackin who was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks in 1981 (Class of ’73) just to name a couple.

BGP: With spring practice wrapped up, what strengths do you see the team offering you as a coach prior to really getting into the nuts and bolts of summer practice?

Coach Fleming: Our biggest strength is going to be our speed. While we do have some big men up front to control the trenches, we are going to live or die by the motto “Speed Kills”. We have a lot of talented and fast young men that I truly think a lot of teams are going to have some trouble keeping up with our tempo of the game.

BGP: Is there anything that you can share about what the Golden Eagles fans can expect to see on the football field this season?

Coach Fleming: We are bringing a new atmosphere into the locker room and in our style of play. We are going to have a high powered explosive offense teamed up with a ferocious Defense that swarms to the ball.

BGP: If you could pare down all of the qualities that you look for in a player, and get down to just one or two top qualities that you like to see the most, what would they be?

Coach Fleming: The biggest thing I look for from a kid, is the eagerness to learn the fundamentals of football, and that unwavering passion to not only be the best, but to daily work towards that goal.

BGP: Who are some of the players on your team this year that we should expect to see a lot out of?

Coach Fleming: I expect to see a lot out of each individual, but a few to watch out for are Seniors Lajuantre Gray (WR,DB), Shennell Ross (Line), Chase Whitt (Line), Trevon Walker (LB, RB), and Chris Knuckles (DB, RB). These kids I have just mentioned have been showing up everyday ready to go and have shown a lot of improvements in practice and look ready to eat Game #1.

BGP: Are there any teams that you would like to look at getting onto the Shawnee schedule within the next handful of years?

Coach Fleming: There are two teams that are definitely on my radar, and they are Central and Waggener. I would really like to have Central on our schedule to beat them and claim the West End as Golden Eagle Country. Waggener is on my list, because as an alumni from Waggener, it would be very special for me to coach against my alma mater.

BGP: What are some of your favorite things to do when you have a little time in the off-season and you're not in football coaching mode?

Coach Fleming: Being a great father to my children. To be the man they need me to be in their life.

BGP: Which college / NFL teams do you root for the most?

Coach Fleming: For College, I root for Louisville and Alabama. My NFL team is the Chicago Bears. would like to give a big thank you to Coach Fleming for offering us some of his valuable time to answer our questions!