FDA alumni meet as coaches on collegiate battlefield

Published 4:57 pm Friday, August 8, 2014

The last time Fort Dale Academy alumni Kendall Gibson and Stephen Sorrells shared the football field, the former was an elementary-school water boy and the latter was a senior on his way to the Eagles’ 2001 state championship game.

But this fall, the two will meet again as coaches on opposite sides of the field while the UAB Blazers and the Troy Trojans kick off their respective seasons with an in-state rivalry game.

But the two are far from rivals.

“Stephen graduated when I was probably in third or fourth grade, but I was the waterboy for him and everything back then,” Gibson said.

“He was several years older than me, but we’ve known each other for several years and we’ve been good friends throughout it.  Whenever he or I need something, we’re always a phone call away.”

The fall season will inaugurate Gibson’s first year as a coach for Troy University but, in truth, this is his sixth season with the Trojans.

He played offensive line for two and a half years before hurting his knee in the New Orleans Bowl, which prompted a move to long snapper.

24 consecutive games later and Gibson has found himself as an analyst for the Trojans’ special teams.

“Things are definitely different on this side of the fence,” Gibson added.

“I put my time in and worked hard for him and when the time came around he was more than willing to give me a shot.  That’s all I can ask for, is the opportunity to coach at the college level.  When he gave me an opportunity, I was definitely excited about it, and I’m going to give him and these guys everything that I have.”

Conversely, Sorrells’ path to a college coaching career is a bit longer; he has served in various capacities at Edgewood Academy, Faulkner University, Cottage Hill Christian Academy in Mobile, Fort Dale, Occidental College in Los Angeles and Kenyon College in Ohio, all in the past 12 years.

But a job at UAB allows him to be back in his home state and relatively close to his mother, who lives in Greenville.

But she’s not the only family waiting for him in the Camellia City.

“My mom is very close to Kendall’s dad, Mr. Ken, and Kendall’s stepmom, and we’re all friends on Facebook,” Sorrells said.

“They’re just really good people down there, and both families are very close.”

Despite their friendship, both coaches are headed into the season opener with the intent to walk away with a win.

But the two are hoping for an opportunity to catch up, either before or after the game.

“I usually wait for the next week before I talk to coaches because there’s always a lot of emotion afterward, win or lose,” Sorrells said.

“But I know we’ll find time to talk and see how things are going.”

“If I have to lose to somebody, if it was Stephen, I couldn’t pick a better person,” Gibson added.

“But we’re going to go into this game wanting to win just like anybody else and look to come out with a W.”

The Trojans travel to Legion Field to face the Blazers on Aug. 30, and kickoff is set for 1 p.m.