Noah Hatcher remembers his first day of fall camp with the Abilene High football team four years ago as a freshman.
“I remember seeing all these seniors and upper classmen,” Hatcher said. “They were so much bigger than me. It was crazy. I looked up to them.”
Hatcher, a senior defensive back, admits it was a bit intimidating back then, walking out on that practice field that first time.
“I was always smaller that everybody,” Hatcher said. “But they taught me here, ball out no matter your size.”
Hatcher, a second-team all-district pick last year, has grown and learned in that time. He finds it hard to believe that time has flown, and he began his final fall camp with the Eagles on Monday at the AHS practice field. He gets one last ride with his senior class.
“It’s crazy how far I’ve come playing with them from pee wee to middle school through high school,” Hatcher said. “I know this is my last time, I’m going to take in what I can – every moment of it.”
Just how excited was Hatcher about that first day of fall practice? That 7 a.m. start couldn’t come fast enough for Hatcher.
“I couldn’t sleep last night,” Hatcher said. “I was ready to come out here. I was fired up.”
Mike Fullen, who begins his 25th year at AHS, the fourth as the Eagles head coach, was pleased with how Day 1 went.
“It was good,” Fullen said. “We had a good turnout. Everybody was here on time. That was what was most awesome. We had everybody here ready to go. We told everybody we would have a hard start at 7 o’clock, and they were all here. They were out here before the coaches were. It was exciting.”
Fullen, a 1998 Sonora graduate, doesn’t remember his first last fall workout as a high school football player nor does he think about it too much.
“I’m not a sentimental person,” Fullen said.
Yet he does remember his first fall as a coach at San Saba in 1995. All these years later, he still gets excited about taking the field in the fall, too.
It’s exciting,” Fullen said. “I was excited today as I was the first time. It’s just a different role now as a head coach. You’re making sure everything is organized and drills are going smoothly and people are where they’re supposed to be.”
Exciting? Yes, but Fullen’s comfort level on the football field is, well, being uncomfortable.
“You’re in a constant state of discomfort, especially when you’re the head coach,” Fullen said about overseeing workouts. “If you’re not, then it doesn’t matter to you. If it matters to you, then you’re always in a state of discomfort. If it’s going good how can get it better? If it’s going bad, what do you need to get better?”
And that goes from the water girls all the way up to the coaching staff.
“We’ll debrief and clean things up and be better tomorrow,” Fullen said. “That’s our goal – be better yesterday than we were today.”
AHS will scrimmage Wylie on Aug. 19 at Shotwell Stadium, before opening the season against Odessa Permian on Aug. 26 at Shotwell.
This article originally appeared on Abilene Reporter-News: Abilene High's Hatcher, Fullen remember first fall football workouts