Britt Stone new head football coach at John Battle
BRISTOL, Va. â€“ Britt Stone describes himself as a â€œhigh-energyâ€ guy.
Thatâ€™s why the past few days have been so challenging for the 29-year-old Alabama native.
â€œI didnâ€™t sleep Saturday or Sunday night. I guess that was part of the reason that I was so at peace Monday,â€ Stone said.
After weeks of meeting, waiting and hoping, Stone was officially named as the new John Battle head football coach late Monday night during a meeting of the Washington County School Board.
During an interview Tuesday afternoon, the Ozark, Alabama, native offered insight into his circuitous journey from Osceola High School in Florida and Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia to Battle Hill.
â€œMy goal has been to be a head coach one day,â€ Stone said. â€œDid I think opportunity would present itself this early? Probably not. But this opportunity at John Battle was special.â€
Stone, who is married to former Tennessee High and Liberty University basketball star Courtney Watkins, was a four-year starter on the offensive line at Liberty.
In addition to guiding the Flames to a pair of Big South Conference titles, the 6-foot-2, 275-pound Stone was selected as all-conference pick as a senior. He earned an undergraduate in youth ministry at Liberty before acquiring a masterâ€™s degree in special education in 2009.
Stone began his coaching career with a one-year stint as an assistant at Morristown West High School, following up with a three-year apprenticeship at Daniel Boone. For the past two years, Stone served in a variety for roles for Tennessee High head coach Mike Mays.
â€œItâ€™s been a blessing to work under Coach Mays,â€ said Stone, who favors a power-oriented running attack on offense. â€œIâ€™ve been able to see all the hard work and the responsibilities that a new head coach faces.â€
Stone also credits Mays for allowing him to expand his knowledge base in football, including serving in the role as secondary coach.
â€œI always try to learn something new and get better every year, and Coach Mays kind of took me under his wing and allowed me to grow,â€ Stone said.
Due to the inclement weather which forced the closure of Washington County Schools, Stone was unable to meet the Battle faculty, players and assistants Tuesday.
â€œThatâ€™s my number one priority,â€ Stone said. â€œI want to meet all those people to build those relationships.â€
Stone has talked with several members of the John Battle community at his church and through informal chats. The topic of stability has been recurrent.
â€œI donâ€™t have a one-year plan, Iâ€™ve got a 10-year plan,â€ Stone said. â€œIâ€™m really looking forward to listening to everyone and investing in this community.â€
That community involvement path was the approach used by former head coach Steve Wright, who elevated the Battle program to new heights before resigning after the 2013 season. The Trojans posted a 2-8 record in 2014, a turbulent season in which Wright and Rocky Baker returned as interim co-coaches after Brian Lee resigned after a season-opening blowout loss to Abingdon.
Stone attended two Battle games in 2014.
â€œIâ€™ve talked to Coach Wright before at coaches clinics and Iâ€™ve heard nothing but good things about him,â€ Stone said. â€œCoach Wright did a fantastic job with the Battle program and we share a similar perspective. We believe that football can be a tool that allows you to mold the lives of young men.
â€œI am big on the development of the whole person.â€
The son of a pastor who lives in the Birmingham, Alabama, area, Stone said he spent many hours praying over his new job.
â€œAll my family is in Alabama, but Bristol feels like home to me,â€ he said. â€œIt has the hometown feel and family values that are important to me and my family.
â€œAnd I really feel that John Battle is a unique opportunity that will be a good fit for me. Itâ€™s all about building those relationships. I see a lot of potential here.â€