BY MARK MORING, Eastern Shore Post —
If Alan Hall had to do it all over again, he says he wouldn’t coach his sons.
Hall, the football coach at Arcadia High School, says it’s hard to find the right balance between being a taskmaster on the field and being a dad everywhere else.
“I love them,” Hall says, “but if I could go back, I would definitely just be their dad. It’s tough to wear both hats. As a coach, I think I’ve been harder on them than I have anyone else, because I expect more from them. I think they know that more than anybody.”
Bradley Hall, a senior for the Firebirds, and Jacob, a sophomore, nod in agreement.
“Playing for your dad has its ups and downs,” says Jacob, a fullback and linebacker. “I’ll tell you the downs first: He’s very strict.”
And the ups? Jacob pauses, then finally says, “Spending time together.”
Bradley, a quarterback and defensive back, picks up the conversation.
“It does have its ups and downs, but I love playing for my father,” he says. “I like being able to come home and have my coach right there if I have any questions. He is a little harder on us because we’re his kids. But it’s making me better.”
It’s making the Firebirds better too. The Hall brothers were instrumental in leading the team to a 3-0 start before they lost two in a row.
They now stand at 4-2 — after Chincoteague forfeited their game last week — heading into tonight’s game at Washington (0-4). Bradley and Jacob say they’re ready to get back on the winning track.
Mental mistakes, penalties, and injuries — including one to Jacob — were costly in the two losses.
“But we’ve addressed our problems,” says Bradley. “We need to win. We need to get into the playoffs. It’s my senior year.” Whatever happens, they’ve already doubled last year’s win total, when they went 2-8.
Alan played sports year-round in Maine before his family moved here for his senior year at Arcadia, where he played one season of baseball before graduating.
He immediately enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served several years before transferring to the Marines, where he was part of the first brigade to invade Iraq.
He carries invisible battle scars to this day. He suffered nine concussions and deals with TBI (traumatic brain injury), which has caused some memory loss.
He ended up medically retiring from the military, and turned his attention to getting more involved in his boys’ lives — particularly in sports and at school.
He was PTA president at Metompkin Elementary, where he befriended then-principal Shaun O’Shea. O’Shea is now the principal at Arcadia.
As a coach and educator, Hall puts a premium on academics and character development. He has a tight relationship with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and encourages his players to do the same.
He asks, “How could you possibly go wrong with including God in our students’ lives?”
“My personal core values that I try to instill in individuals are integrity, perseverance, humility, service, and faith,” says Hall, who is also Arcadia’s athletic director. “We want these young men and women to succeed in life, and I want to be a part of that.”
It seems to be working. Bradley, who was recently baptized at his church, and Jacob are both polite young men who never fail to say, “Yes, sir” and “No, sir.” They’re good students too: Bradley has a 4.13 GPA, and Jacob a 3.68.
Both intend to go to college; Jacob would like to play football, but Bradley is more interested in studying for a career in medicine. He spent some time in Vietnam last summer with FutureDocs Abroad, a program for students who aim to be doctors.
“It was amazing,” Bradley says. After shadowing one doctor in family medicine, “I was like, that’s what I’m going to do.”
For now, though, he just wants to beat Washington and start winning again. So does Jacob. So does their dad.
“We’ve set the reset button,” Alan Hall says. “We’re ready.”