MCCOLLOUGH: What Derek Irons has done is nothing short of amazing

Published 8:58 pm Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Charles Henderson head coach Derek Irons is quick to deflect credit away from himself. He is humble and put his players before himself every chance he gets.

But it is time for Irons to get praise he rightfully deserves.

For the second straight year, Irons guided the Charles Henderson Trojans to the Alabama High School State Championships. The Trojans won it last year in dominating fashion, and overcame a pile of adversity this season to go back-to-back.

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Over the last six years, Irons has led the Trojans to 186 wins and three consecutive area championships. His 2013 team set a new AHSAA record for season win percentage en route a dominant 40-3 record.

The wins speak for themselves, and Irons admits that he hates losing. But it’s the things outside of the playing field and the X’s and O’s that Irons really deserves praise for.

He works tireously to make sure his players get every opportunity to move on to the next level.

In six years as head coach, Irons has sent close to two dozen players to college to play baseball.

Irons takes the raw talent his players possess and molds it in to perfect baseball technique. He takes players that may not be the most baseball savvy, and turns them in to pretty good ball players.

In short, he does exactly what a high school coach needs to do: get the most out of his players, while teaching them the fine points of the game.

Irons also makes sure that his players are taken care of outside of the team.

He routinely invites players to church and dinner. He generally loves each and every member of his “baseball family.”

Yes, Charles Henderson was a great baseball school long before Irons arrived. But he has taken it to the next level on and off the field.

You never hear of an Irons-coached players getting in to mischief or not doing what he is supposed to do, because they all respect him and don’t want to disappoint him.

Fans are quick to give a coach handshake for winning a ball game or a title, but I challenge you to give Irons a handshake for helping to transform boys in to the young men of the future.

Ryan McCollough is a sports writer for The Messenger. He covers recreation, high school and Troy University athletics and is a member of the Football Writers Association of America.