CHHS coaches see bright future for Trojans
Published 8:14 pm Sunday, March 5, 2023
By Dan Smith
Nick Saban has called it The Process.
There is only one Nick Saban, and there will never be another, but his model of producing championship caliber players and teams has become a model not just in all levels of athletics, but the world of business as well.
Quinn Hambrite was hired in February of 2021 by the Troy City School board, not only to serve as the Head Football coach, but also the Athletic Director. It would be hard to imagine any one person that could have had a greater influence in the change at CHHS in the past two years, through the implementation of Hambrite’s own process.
This 2022-23 calendar school year at Charles Henderson High has been historic, with Hambrite’s football team making it to the AHSAA Class 5A state championship game, and three months later the boys and girls basketball teams each making it to the Final Four. Never have three Henderson High teams made it that far in the same year.
“We had to change the culture, and we had to create a unity among all sports,” said Coach Hambrite. “We had to change the culture and the mindset of the kids, and having kids play multiple sports, it matters.”
Dyneshia Jones-Elder has been coaching girls basketball at CHHS for 25 years, and this year marked the seventh consecutive season the Lady Trojans have reached the Final Four, while Coach Tim Fayson is in his second season as head coach of the boys basketball program.
“They are phenomenal people,” said Coach Hambrite. “Coach Jones-Elder, she is magnificent. She is the best coach in the school system and the county. There is no doubt in my mind, I tell her that, she is the greatest of all time. When you can take these girls and do what you do with these girls consistently, it shows what a quality person she is, and what a quality coach she is. Whenever she decides to go, she is going to be a gem that Troy and the community will definitely miss.
“I know Coach Fayson has been waiting on this opportunity for a long time. He stepped in and
started rocking everybody’s world since Year One. His drive and success comes from his
philosophy, hard work and no-nonsense mentality, which is similar to mine as well. When
football season goes well, it trickles into other sports, believe it or not. And when some of those other players start playing other sports, that mentality trickles from that program into other programs. Football players run track and play basketball and baseball. That mentality we have embedded is starting to infiltrate every single sport.”
Coach Jones-Elder has sent a team seven consecutive years to the Final Four, but her goals for her girls go far beyond the two state championships she and her teams have already won.
“I ask them to give me their all,” said Coach Jones-Elder. “I expect that is why our numbers are real low, as far as girls on the team, because I push them. I push them more than their own limit sometimes, but I let them know the word ‘Can’t’ is not in their vocabulary.
“Once they believe in the system – it all depends on the players I have – you have to adjust your offense and defense depending on what group you have. We did not have the height this season, so we needed to be real quick and smart in general. I love it when my former players call, or I see them in public. I am happy to see them with a job, or if they give me that big hug, or if I see them on social media. I love putting that hashtag ‘#ProudCoach’ because that is what I want to see. It does not matter if they don’t play basketball after high school. I just want them to be successful in life, and that is all.”
Before Saturday’s matchup against Valley, the last time the CHHS boys reached the championship was in 1987, when Coach Fayson was a starter on that team. This season, Coach Fayson has wanted to win not only for his current team, but all that have come before.
“It is all for them,” said Coach Fayson. “I just want to see them be successful. Everything that I have done is to help them. It is nothing about me, and the players that have come before me, keeping their memory alive, that is the most important thing, keeping the spirit of those players and trying to bridge the gap between the past, the present and hopefully the future. This is about helping them become better people, better young men. They have always been
champions to me because of their heart and how hard they have worked.”
Coach Fayson recognizes that the tradition of CHHS basketball began some 40 to 50 years ago, and that the Troy City School administration of today is also responsible for the success enjoyed by these sports today.
“I give credit to a lot of other people before me,” said Coach Fayson. “My brother (Daron Fayson) played here at Charles Henderson under Coach (Bobby) McCracken. My oldest brother Willie Fayson also played basketball here when they first integrated the school system, so it’s been a part of my family for a long time. Just seeing it growing, and me growing up in it from Coach McCracken to Coach Eddie McCarter, Coach (Carl) Hollis, Coach (Calvin) Griffin, Coach (Shelby) Tuck, Coach (Doug) Branson, and now on to me, just being a part of that, I think it is about family. At the end of the day, it is about family and love for Charles Henderson High School.”
Coach Jones-Elder has been around the school and the game enough to not hesitate in saying that everyone being on the same page, from A to Z, from top to bottom, is the key to any success.
“It makes it so much easier when you have an administration and an AD that is working with you to help you out in any way possible, as long as you are doing the right thing,” said Coach Jones- Elder. “It makes it easier. He (Coach Hambrite) is always just a phone call away. If I have any problem I can call the AD, I can call the administration, and they are there to help me. They most definitely take the stress away so I can handle just basketball and my teaching in class.
“Just trust the process. It is a great year to be a Trojan. We are doing big things here. We have already had three teams make it to the state finals in football and two basketball teams, and it goes well beyond athletics. It is all about life.”
In addition to Coach Hambrite and the school administration, Coach Fayson did not hesitate in saying who also is a key contributor to the mentality of success and winning.
“I think that mentality comes from Coach Dynesia Jones-Elder, she is the cornerstone of everything you see,” said Coach Fayson. “What she has done to take that program basically from nothing from the ashes to two-time state champions, now everyone is coming behind her saying that they want to be like that, that they want a taste of that. I know for me that has been my motivation, and part of it is seeing so much success on the girls side, and asking, how can we emulate that and bring that to the boys side. I know the football team and their coaches have done that as well.”
As Head Football Coach and Athletic Director, Coach Hambrite lets everyone on his staff know that while athletics may be an important activity of the school year, it is not their priority. Coach Hambrite had many people influence him growing up, and he hopes he and his coaches can also be a positive influence on today’s student-athletes.
“My number-one influence was my grandmother,” said Coach Hambrite. “She raised me. She was a no-nonsense person, and academics were first. If I made a ‘C’ I had to get off the team. There wasn’t any sitting out this week, you were off the team until the next nine weeks comes, and by that time the season is over. She embedded those qualities in me of hard work and dedication and just being a nice person.
“My uncle, who is a pastor, embedded Christ within myself. He was one of those who would tell me again and again to come to church. I was a part of the Deacon Boys, and I was over the Youth Ministries and in the choir. The upbringing I had was a community upbringing. I felt that my past upbringing I can kind of build here, with the foundation of course being Godly people, and bringing Godly people around to coach these kids. I think it has been a success where I started off in White Hall, Alabama, with my mom, my dad and most of all my grandmother, I think they groomed a pretty successful young man if I have to say so myself.”
Shaping young men and women to be responsible adults is at the forefront for Coach Hambrite, and he gives credit to others for helping him realize that.
“One of my philosophies is as a player you cannot tell another player to tell a coach that you are not going to be at practice,” said Coach Hambrite. “I can not tell Coach Austin to tell Mrs. Fayson that I am not going be be at work. That is called a ‘No-Call, No-Show.’ You can get fired for that. You have to be here on time and you have to hold yourself accountable. If you will not be here, then tell us.
“All of that, in life and those circumstances, that is how you are going to do your job. If you are not a team player on your job, then you are more than likely not going to be a good person, or a good man or a good husband. That is what we are grooming, on the male side of it, we are trying to groom good husbands, good fathers, good men. We try to show them with our actions as well. I like to see them when I love on my daughters. I like to see them when I love on my wife because that is what it is supposed to look like.”