By NATHAN DEENJune 26, 2013
FORT BENNING, Ga., (June 26, 2013) -- These days, Charles Flowers is staying out of the spotlight.
But if the Smiths Station football team, which has a combined record of 9-11 the last two seasons, has a turnaround year, you may find Flowers' signature on it.
I sat down Monday with the former head coach who took a 3-6 Shaw High School football team and turned it into a state powerhouse, including a state championship in 2000. I was curious to find out what the local legend had been up to since he retired from coaching in Georgia in 2011.
Aside from spending more time with family, Flowers said he has just one purpose in coaching now: To reach kids at a younger age and teach them the fundamentals of the game.
As the ninth-grade head football coach at Smiths Station, Flowers said he'll provide input on the varsity team when asked, but otherwise he just hands his kids over to varsity head coach Mark Rose ready to go.
Flowers has a particular burden to share his love of the game with Fort Benning youths. He's hosted the Child, Youth & School Services summer football camp the past six years, coming back to Columbus even when he coached for three years in Albany, Ga.
"I think there are a lot of (military) athletes who haven't really been taught the game," he said. "It's important that the kids get the fundamentals."
You can't help but admire Flowers' ambition. He's as kind as they come -- he offered to buy my lunch after only meeting him for a second time -- and he genuinely cares about young people.
Any program with a 161-82 record with a high school football coach running its feeder system can get dangerously good in a short amount of time, but to most coaches, that would probably be a sacrifice. Flowers is a different story -- it's what he wants to do.
I asked him if he would ever consider taking over a varsity program in the future. His answer was a resounding "no," without hesitation or even a second thought.
"You feel like it's time to do something else and you don't really feel like you have to prove anything else," Flowers said. "I just feel like, right now, this is where I need to be and what I need to be doing."
The administration at Smiths Station can't complain about that, and the kids will benefit tremendously from it.