BY KATHRYN ACREE
Friday night in the Oak Mountain High School cafeteria Cris Bell stood and let parents and players know what he thought about the Eagle’s past.
“We’re not going to look back, we’re going to look forward,” he said. “This is a new day.”
Bell was officially announced as the head football coach of the Oak Mountain Eagles at a reception in the school’s cafeteria on Jan. 27 following his approval by the Shelby County Board of Education just the night before.
“This is an exciting time at the high school,” said athletic director David Hogue. “We’ve waited for this day with much anticipation since November. It’s been a long process, and we had over 120 very qualified applicants. After listening to you, after listening to other members of our community, we feel like we have absolutely landed the best candidate.”
“I‘m excited to be here, my family’s excited to be here,” Bell said. “I’m very humbled by the opportunity that has been afforded me. I think anytime you get the chance to impact young men, that’s a responsibility not to be taken lightly.”
Bell shared his outlook on the Eagles going forward: “My number one goal as the head football coach at Oak Mountain High School is to use the program to grow men. If they’re not better husbands, if they’re not better daddies, if they’re not better doctors…lawyers…I don’t care if they’re trash collectors. It doesn’t matter what they’re doing, if they’re not better for having been with us for one year, four years, however long it might be, then I’ve not done my job.”
The Bell family will move from the Atlanta area where Bell was in his first year as an assistant football coach at Marietta High School. Previously, Bell served as athletic director and head football coach at Locus Grove, Ga.’s Strong Rock Christian School. The family includes Bell’s wife of nearly 22 years, Kim and daughters Haden, Pearson and Evie and son, Reese. Haden attends the University of Alabama.
“I’m excited about the new coach,” said Molly Darby, whose son, Lee, is a freshman football player. “I’m excited about his avenue. Just from the information he gave the players at their team meeting this morning, (I like) his basic expectations: being respectful to parents first then teachers and coaches, that he expects them to sit in the front of the classroom. There’s certain things he’s expecting from them (the players) up front before they even get to football.”
“There’s no reason why we can’t be the best football program in the state of Alabama,” Bell said of why he considered Oak Mountain. “It comes down to the people. The more I talked to the people, (in this area) the more convinced I became this is a great fit.”