Fishburne Military School is building on the recent success of its athletics programs with the appointments of football coach Chip Hill and wrestling coach Terry Waters, both announced at the school on Monday.
Hill had served as an assistant football coach at FMS for the past three seasons. A former coach and athletics director with stops at Stuarts Draft, Wilson Memorial and Fort Defiance, Hill was named the Skyline District Coach of the Year in 1989 after leading a 17-player squad at WMHS to a surprise second-place district finish.
Waters, a six-time district coach of the year, has a career record of 233-65 in stints at Riverheads and Fort Defiance. He comes to Fishburne after a two-year run as an assistant coach at Washington and Lee University.
“These men are giants among high school athletics here in Virginia,” said Fishburne Superintendent Col. Gary Morrison. “The depth of their knowledge, along with their proven records of providing positive and active mentoring to their athletes, makes this a huge win for Fishburne Military School and for the Corps of Cadets.”
Both Hill and Waters bring interesting life stories in addition to their coaching expertise to Fishburne. Waters was among the first group of black students to integrate Milton Hershey High School, Pa. where he played football, baseball, and placed in the Pennsylvania State Wrestling Championships, and was among the first black coaches to integrate Augusta County Public Schools’ athletic programs.
Hill, an All-State running back in Tennessee in high school and two-time All-ODAC strong safety at Emory & Henry College, served a four-year stint with the U.S. Army Intelligence Security Command before embarking on a career in education.
Their diverse backgrounds in athletics, the classroom and life were what drew Fishburne to want to add Waters and Hill to the athletics staff, said Bryan Greene, the athletics director at FMS.
“We’re really excited to have Coach Hill and Coach Waters come to us,” Greene said. “The most important thing is they share Fishburne’s philosophy of building young boys into men and making sure that they’re well-rounded individuals. They’re not coming in here just to be successful at football and wrestling. They’re coming here to help the young men that we have here at Fishburne become young men.”
Hill will have to hit the ground running from the athletics perspective with football practice set to start on Aug. 14 and a season opener on Sept. 4 not allowing for much time to get things in place. Familiarity with the program from the past three seasons on the football staff will help ease the transition.
“Whenever there’s a change, there’s that momentary pause where everybody is trying to get on the same page. Some of that will happen to us offensively this year. We shouldn’t have that issue on defense. Defensively, we’re running the same thing we did last year, so there’s that familiarity that we shouldn’t miss a beat,” said Hill, who served as defensive coordinator at FMS the past two seasons.
Hill is going to make a schematic change on offense. The Caissons had run a system with a lot of shotgun, pistol and spread elements the past three seasons. Hill is going to get things back to a little bit more of a smashmouth feel.
“We’re going into some type of option format of football, get back under center, and attack the line of scrimmage, have the best athlete that we can find under center, and put the ball in his hands every play, give him the chance to make something happen,” Hill said.
The change in philosophy “will be the learning curve for us,” Hill said.
“It might be game two or game three before we start to hit our stride, and until then, we may have to depend a little more on our defense than most teams would,” Hill said.
Waters has some time to build toward the winter sports season for wrestling, but he’s already busy laying the foundation for the work that will be done to get the Caissons in position to make some noise at the state level.
“I’m a person who sets high goals. I believe if you work hard and stay disciplined, everything else falls into place, takes care of itself,” said Waters, who has coached 11 state champions and 21 state runner-ups in his 38-year career. “We’re going to be successful. It wouldn’t surprise me if in a year or so we don’t have a state champ here at Fishburne. That’s what we’re building toward. The chips will fall where they may, but if we work hard, the kids will be good student-athletes and great citizens, and I’ll be happy if that is the case.”
Waters was “perfectly happy” at Washington and Lee, but was intrigued at the opportunity to be a head coach again, and was drawn in by the commitment of the staff and administration at Fishburne toward the overall athletics program.
“With my last situation as a head coach, I felt like I was walking into a situation where I was building from the ground up, and it took time. I don’t feel that way here. We’re not building from the ground up here. The blocks are already in place. I’m just adding blocks,” Waters said.
“I’ll definitely bring a different style of coaching, but what I’ve done on the mat doesn’t mean anything. What we get these young men to do on the mat is what’s important,” Waters said.
– Story by Chris Graham