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Fisher DeBerry is the former head football coach at the United States Air Force Academy, a position he held for 23 years. He has led 17 of his 22 teams to winning records and 12 have captured a bowl bid. His career record of 169-107-1 is the best in school history in terms of games won and winning percentage. He retired on December 15, 2006 as the winningest head football coach in Air Force history.

Background

Coach DeBerry was born in Cherawmarker, South Carolinamarker in 1938. In high school, DeBerry was a four-sport varsity letter winner, lettering five times in baseball, three times each in football and basketball and twice in track. He was also an all-state selection in baseball and football. DeBerry graduated in 1960 from Wofford Collegemarker in Spartanburg, South Carolinamarker, where he lettered in football and baseball. He was also active in the Kappa Sigma Fraternity while in college.

After six years of coaching and teaching in the South Carolinamarker high school ranks, DeBerry returned to Woffordmarker, where he coached for two years as an assistant when Wofford won 21 consecutive games and was ranked first in the NAIA. For the next nine years (71-79), DeBerry was an assistant coach at Appalachian State Universitymarker in Boonemarker, North Carolinamarker. While DeBerry was there, Appalachian State was ranked in the top 10 nationally in either rushing, total offense or scoring offense three times. In 1974, the team ranked sixth nationally in pass defense when he was defensive coordinator.

Air Force football

Ken Hatfield hired DeBerry in 1980 as the Air Force Academy quarterbacks coach. The next year, DeBerry was promoted to offensive coordinator. By 1982, Air Force posted an 8-5 record and beat Vanderbiltmarker in the Hall of Fame Bowl while averaging 30.4 points per game. After the 1983 season, Hatfield left Air Force for Arkansasmarker after the Falcons' 10-2 season and Independence Bowl victory. DeBerry was promoted to head coach.
DeBerry at a pre-game press conference in 2000.
During DeBerry's tenure as head coach, Air Force won at least eight games 11 different seasons. DeBerry's first team, in 1984, was 8-4 and beat Virginia Tech in the 1984 Independence Bowl. The next year, the Falcons won 12 games, and were ranked as high as No. 4 nationally until a 28-21 loss at BYUmarker. In the final Associated Press poll, the Falcons ranked eighth. DeBerry has coached the Falcons to three conference championships, winning the Western Athletic Conference championship in 1985, 1995, and 1998. The 1998 team's 12-1 record completed the first back-to-back 10-win seasons in school history, and finished the season ranked 10th nationally.

DeBerry's Falcons have dominated the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy series with arch rivals Armymarker and Navymarker. Air Force has won the trophy 14 times and shared it once in DeBerry's 21 seasons. He is a combined 34-8 against the Black Knights and Midshipmen and is the winningest coach in service academy history. Since the Commander-in-Chief's series began in 1972, Air Force has gone to 16 bowl games, compared to a combined 13 for Army and Navy. DeBerry has led the Academy to 12 of those bowl games and has a 6-6 record.

Although DeBerry has been portrayed a role-model for most of his career, he came under fire for controversial racial remarks made he made in October 2005 after a 48-10 loss to Texas Christian Universitymarker (TCU). DeBerry said TCU "had a lot more Afro-American players than we did and they ran a lot faster than we did. Afro-American kids can run very well. That doesn't mean that Caucasian kids and other descents can't run, but it's very obvious to me that they run extremely well." Earlier that year, DeBerry had been criticized for a banner posted in the team's locker room that was interpreted by some as inappropriate religious proselytizing.

On December 15, 2006 DeBerry announced his retirement. He now splits his retirement time between South Carolina and Oklahoma, where he owns homes.




Other Positions and Awards

Coach DeBerry has been named WAC Coach of the Year three times in his career, and in 1985, won the Paul "Bear" Bryant Award as NCAA college football's coach of the year. DeBerry has also been awarded the State Farm Coach of Distinction award in 2001, and has been inducted into the South Carolina Sports Hall of Fame. DeBerry received an honorary doctorate of humanities from Wofford during its graduation ceremony in 2003.

In 1996, DeBerry served as president of the American Football Coaches Association, and is currently the chairman of the AFCA ethics committee. He was honored by the Independence Bowl as a member of its Hall of Fame. In 2005, DeBerry was honored with induction into the Colorado Springs Sports Hall of Fame.

Off the football field

DeBerry and his wife, LuAnn, are notably active in church, charity and community affairs. Coach DeBerry gives motivational speeches to religious and corporate groups, and LuAnn is a volunteer with the Ronald McDonald House and the American Cancer Society. DeBerry has strong ties to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and was inducted into the organizations’s Hall of Champions in 2005. He and LuAnn have assisted fund-raising efforts for Easter Seals, the March of Dimes, the Salvation Army and the American Heart Association.Coach DeBerry's son Joe played in the Cincinnati Reds, New York Yankees and Milwaukee Brewers baseball organizations. He currently resides in Grove, Oklahoma.

References

See also

Legends Poll

External links




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