By LEE PASSMORE
The chance to come back home has finally given Chris Fisher his first head football coaching job.
Fisher, who graduated from Palo Duro in 1994, made his first official appearance as Palo Duro’s new head coach Wednesday morning after his hiring was approved by the Amarillo Independent District School Board on Tuesday night. He served for 14 years as an assistant coach at Plano High.
While Fisher said he had interviewed for three head coaching positions earlier in his career, fate didn’t intervene until longtime Palo Duro coach Steve Parr announced his retirement at the end of the 2015 season after 17 years. It was an opportunity he couldn’t resist, seeing as his parents and three sisters still live here.
“The second I heard coach Parr retired, it was something I immediately started praying for,” said Fisher, who played football and baseball at Palo Duro. “I talked with my wife and girls about it and they gave me the blessing to pursue this.”
Fisher was the assistant defensive coordinator at Plano and said he will hand in his letter of resignation later this week. He will officially take over at Palo Duro on Feb. 1, the day of the UIL’s biennial realignment.
In addition to setting up a nondistrict schedule for next season, Fisher will take time to evaluate the returning talent as well as determine the coaching staff. He plans on making himself visible at many school activities.
“We’ve got to get to know these kids,” Fisher said.
“I’ve got to start talking with people from day one. The community needs to help me out. I can’t do this by myself.”
Fisher said he hasn’t decided on what kind of offense or defense the Dons will run in 2016, although he has an idea about a defensive scheme. He specialized in coaching the secondary at Plano and was a starting defense back for the Dons in his playing days, and also played at Midwestern State.
AISD athletic director Brad Thiessen said that Fisher’s skills with people were a major selling point in his getting the job.
“When you talk to his references they tell you that he’s the real deal when it comes to dealing with kids,” Thiessen said of Fisher.
“There’s so many things a coach needs to be about, but that’s a big part of it. Kids don’t play for a scheme, they play for a coach.”
That’s what Fisher remembers about his days at PD when he played for coach Doug James. In the final game of his senior year at Dick Bivins Stadium, Fisher savored the memory, and now he’s returning there to be a Don again.
“I remember my last game against Tascosa staying on the field and taking my gloves off and running my fingers through the grass so I’d let it sink in that last time,” Fisher said. “You never know never know if that feeling is going to happen again.”