Atkins High’s Hamlin primed to meet every challenge as the new head-Camel-in-charge  

Atkins High’s Hamlin primed to meet every challenge as the new head-Camel-in-charge  
July 09
00:00 2015

In above photo: David Hamlin


Being the head football coach at Atkins High School is arguably the least coveted gig in Forsyth County.
The school started playing football in 2005 and has never experienced a winning season.
In years past, the seemingly-dwindling number of available athletes has made it difficult to build and sustain continuity.
David Hamlin, the newly installed head coach, has heard all the negatives.
“A lot of people saw this job opening, but they didn’t apply for it, they didn’t want it,” said Hamlin, who is the school’s fourth football coach in 10 years. “I’ve heard it said that they can’t win at Atkins, they don’t have the right kids, etc. I didn’t run from this position, I ran towards it. There are folks who say that we won’t be successful. But I say give me a couple of years and we’ll see what happens.”
As a former Camels assistant coach (2005-2011), Hamlin is acutely aware of all the challenges.
But he also has a fierce determination to do all he can to help Atkins football ascend to heights that it’s never reached before.
Hamlin assumed command of the program in February. Since then, he’s been asked the same question on multiple occasions.
Why Atkins?
“The most honest answer is that they gave me an opportunity,” said Hamlin, who spent the last four seasons as an assistant varsity coach and head junior varsity coach at Reynolds. “One of the reasons that I even applied for the position is because of the growth I’ve seen. At one time, Atkins had about 400 students, now that number is up to around 600.
“Academically, the school is outstanding, which means that I don’t have a lot of problems with eligibility. Since I’ve been here before, I know what the potential is. It’s going to be a challenge to see if I’m that guy who can provide that spark to get Atkins on the right track.”
Hamlin believes that one of the biggest challenges he faces is getting Atkins supporters to understand that high-quality academic schools are more than capable of producing top-flight football programs.
Atkins is the only high school in the county’s STEM program (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).
STEM schools offer curriculum to help students prepare for careers in those highly specialized fields. Hamlin feels there’s a misguided perception among supporters in the Atkins community that a STEM school cannot field a good football team.
“It’s like there’s a stigma that smart kids can’t be good athletes,” he said. “I spoke with the head coach at the Duke [David Cutcliffe] at a clinic about this. People believe Duke can’t win at football because of its academic standards. That’s one of the biggest challenges we face at Atkins.
“Our young men are working very hard and they want to be coached, they want to be taught. Being good in the classroom helps with their understanding on the football field. For our players, it’s a matter of them getting past that stigma in their own minds.”
During spring practice, Hamlin refused to make any assumptions about any of his players.
The coaching staff placed heavy emphasis on mastering the basics and developing strong work habits.
In essence, Hamlin implemented a “Football 101” kind of approach, which ran the gamut from getting into the proper stance to executing the right techniques for blocking, tackling and catching the football.
According to Hamlin, 34 players came out for spring ball, which is considered to be a reasonable turnout for a Class 1-A school such as Atkins.
“For where we are right now as a program, I was pleased with our spring numbers,” he said. “We started at the bottom, just like we would if we were at the Pop Warner level. We sent the message early-on that hard work is what produces good results.
“The team motto for this year is: ‘Earn it.’ It won’t matter what they did last year. It won’t matter how good they think they are. Whatever they get, they’re going to have to earn it each week. I believe we can win four games this season. But the main thing I want to accomplish is for them to learn how to compete in every game.”

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