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May 21, 2024 44 mins
Growing up in Cheraw, South Carolina, Fisher DeBerry spent his time playing multiple sports: football, basketball, baseball and track. In high school, he was All-State in football and baseball. He’ll try to tell you that’s because there wasn’t much competition. Highly unlikely.  

Fisher got a small scholarship to play football and baseball at Wofford College. He also worked a few jobs to pay for school as well as enlisted in Amry ROTC. After graduation, he served his commitment, earned his master’s degree and started coaching football and baseball at the high school level.  

His coaching path led him back to Wofford, where he was introduced to the Wishbone offense by head coach James Brakefield. Coach Brakefield brought Fisher with him to Appalachian State where for nine years, the Mountaineers dominated on offense.  

In 1980, Ken Hatfield asked Fisher to join his staff at the Air Force Academy and Fisher took a huge leap leaving the south. He started as the Quarterback’s Coach, moved to Offensive Coordinator and got the Head Coaching job when Coach Hatfield left for Arkansas. Over the next 21 seasons, Coach DeBarry’s Falcons would win the coveted Commander in Chief trophy 14 times, secure a few conference championships as well as bowl game victories.  

After retiring in 2006, Fisher and his wife LuAnn amped up their Fisher DeBerry Foundation, helping single parent families, as well as spending time with their two children, grandchildren and now great-grandchildren.
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Episode Transcript

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(00:00):
It's the thing we did. Wesold the education and what the education could

(00:03):
mean to you whether you became acareer officer or where you stayed in the
military as you know, as acareer, but the opportunities to fly,
and we sold all the positive thingsand we let them realize that it was
going to be tough, but didn'tIt wasn't anything that they couldn't handle them
with our encouragement and support, butit would make him just that much better

(00:25):
football player. Too. Welcome tocut, traded, fired, retired.
If this is your first time,thank you for checking out the podcast.
There is no order to the episodes. Just pick and choose whenever you want
to hear some great stories from professionalathletes and coaches. If you're a regular,
you already know how this works andthanks for all your support. I'm
your host, Susie Wargen. Thisepisode's guest is about as southern as they

(00:48):
come, and despite being in Coloradofor nearly three decades, that fabulous southern
drawl never faded. Fisher to Berrygrew up in South Carolina and was a
four sport athlete in high school.He was all stayed in foot ball and
baseball and played both sports at WolffordCollege, where he had a small scholarship
to help pay for school. Fisherjoined the Army ROTC and did his service.

(01:08):
After graduating, he also earned hismaster's degree and got into coaching football
and baseball. His football coaching wouldtake him from the high school ranks back
to Woolford, to Appalachian State,and eventually to Colorado Springs and the Air
Force Academy. He didn't bring theinfamous wishbone offense to the academy, but
had learned it at Wolford and helpedbring it to the next level with athletes

(01:30):
who not only had to be athleticallygifted, but also academic and willing to
commit to serve their country. Duringhis twenty one years leading the Falcons,
coach to Berry's teams won the Commanderin Chief trophy fourteen times, which is
far more important than a conference championship, but he also did that a few
times as well. After he retiredin two thousand and six, coach de

(01:51):
Berry went into multiple Hall of Fames, grew his foundation, and enjoyed time
with his wife, Luanne and theirfamily. He's quite the character. Ladies
and gentlemen. Fisher to Berry cutTraded Fired Retired podcast with Susie Wargen.
Coach Fisher to Berry, how areyou. I'm fine. I better than
I deserve. It is so wonderfulto see you. I've had you on

(02:15):
my list for a very long time, and you're in town and so we're
grabbing you for a little bit andI sure appreciate the time because you're just
one of those special people that hassuch a really cool history here in Colorado.
So it's fun to sit down andchat with you. Well, it's
good to be home. You know, we're here twenty seven years, so
I guess that qualifies us to benative, I think. So, yeah,

(02:36):
we'll take you. We'll totally takeyou. Yeah. So the way
that I do these coach is Ikind of go way back to your start
and we're just kind of go throughyour life a little bit and how you
got into sports. You were aheck of an athlete. But let's start
back growing up in Charra. AmI saying that right? Charra, South
Carolina population of fivey twenty twenty,So I bet it was really small when

(02:58):
you were there, right, Youknew everybody and everybody knew you, so
you had to watch out what youwere doing. They called the prettiest town
in Dixie. What was it likegrowing up in a little small town like
that. Well, you knew everybody, and everybody knew you, and yeah,
you better watch out what you dobecause if your parents didn't see it,
or your grandparents in my case,you know, somebody would tell them,

(03:21):
that was for sure. So youhad to really be on your p's
and q's. But we grew upright in the backyard of the playing fields
baseball and football, and the highschool was writing a backyard almost and so
most every morning, all I didwas slip on my shorts because nobody wore
shoes back then, and everybody hadthat T shirt and so you know,

(03:44):
you'd have a quick breakfast and itwas over to the park and so whatever
was going on, whoever's playing,and that's what you did. That was
your introduction to sports. You werea four sport athlete in high school,
between football, basketball, baseball,and track. You lettered in all four.
So what did you think you'd maybebe good at sports? And obviously
you're just playing it with everybody asyou grow up. Well, I think
I just had a good time.So you know, my grandmother and granddaddy

(04:09):
practically raised me. My mother andI lived there with them my entire duration,
and you know, we were churchevery Sunday, and then when church
was over, you kept your shirtsclothes on, and we had family dinner,
and a lot of times family dinnerbecause Grandma waited and cook the fried
chicken until she got home. Andso it was getting close to two o'clock,

(04:29):
and if you didn't get over tothe ball field by two o'clock,
you didn't get on team. Sowe had some rough moments about hurrying up
with lunch. But you know,living that close, you could always join
in and pick up baseball game,pick up football game, and on Saturday
after the game was on Friday nightthere you'd go through stands and see if
a quarter a dollar had fallen outof some NIC's pocket, you know,

(04:50):
and you could pick that up andmaybe go to the movie that afternoon,
because it costs nine cents to goto the movie. And I remember my
mother used to give me a quartero week and it cost nine cents to
go to the movie. And youcould then go down to the drug store
and get a hot dog for tencents and a cocola for six cents,
and that's how I spent that quarterevery Saturday. And you grew up,

(05:13):
as you mentioned, your your grandmaand grandpa raising you with a single mom,
and you do so much now withhelping out families that are single parent
families. What was that like?You probably didn't know any different, did
you? Or did you know differentbecause your friends had mom and dad there?
Well, I really didn't. Inever give you a second thought.
I always thought my granddad is dad, and my grandmother she saw of ruled

(05:34):
the roost, you know, andif you ever stepped out of line,
she jerkeyed right back in. Andremember one day we were at the ball
fiell and you know, have youget little scuffles And we had a little
encounter with a couple of guys andthey ran me home and I beat them

(05:54):
my house and I'm on the frontportion. My grandmother comes out and they
out in the front yard, youknow, And I called them a bunch
of and she heard me say that, and she said, come here,
boy, and she brought me in. And I don't know if you know
what Octacon soap is, but it'san old timey soap, probably has a
lot of lie in it. Shewashed my mouth out with that and made

(06:15):
an impression. So I knew youdidn't call people certain things. You literally
had your mouth washed out with soap. Soap, Oh my goodness. All
right, So you're all stayed inhigh school in baseball and football. Did
you have a favorite between the foursports that you played? Well? I
enjoyed certainly football, and I enjoyedbaseball. And I played baseball from time

(06:39):
I was in the eighth grade.We had an American Legion team there and
that was when American Legion baseball andwe put a number of guys in professional
baseball from that little community, andbaseball was very popular there. So I
spent a lot of time playing baseball. But in football season, I really
really enjoyed that and always was veryappreciative and always admired and respected so much

(07:03):
in my coaches, and I thinkjust the influence that they had on me
probably had more to do with megoing in the direction of coaching. Sure,
what positions did you play? Football? Everything? It wasn't good at
anything. Oh, I don't thinkthat's true. My senior year, you
know, they needed a quarterback,and so I'd played a little quarterback.

(07:25):
But if you're All State coach,you must have been good. At summer.
I was a quarterback and did playin one of the state All Star
games. Okay, I had areally great All Star game and certainly was
not a not a not a greatgreat player, but a guy that just
loved to play and compete and anddo the best I could. And so

(07:46):
the coach from Wofford, who Iended up actually coaching with him one day,
come through and I was wondering howyou got discovered? He knew who
I was, but they didn't havea lot of money at Wofford time,
and so I got a very littlebit of money to go and play baseball
and then played football and got alittle money that way, and then got

(08:07):
a little money through my books.For the school itself had had had a
library of all books, and soyou know when you change books at each
semester, you could go to theathletic books store and pick up whatever books
you need and saved you, youknow, a good bit of money.
Oh yeah, at that time.And so that was a big help.

(08:28):
And then I worked in the dean'soffice and then on Friday night, the
local high school, which was abig high school there in Spartanburg, South
Carolina. They played their home gamesin our stadium there at Wofford College,
and so I'd sell hot dogs atthe games on Friday night before we had
to go in for ko for curfew, you know. And so that was

(08:48):
how I made my money. Andthen of course I joined ROTC and had
a lot of respect and gained alot of respect for the military. And
certainly when I made a commitment totaking ROTC position graduation, then it had
paid, you know, some extracurriculum money that I might not have had,
and that helped me an awful lotand helped me collectively. So you

(09:11):
did then, were you commissioned graduation? Sure? What when did you serve?
I served in the military for twoyears. I was stationed at the
recruiting main station in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I had a great time there,
And while I was there, Iwas able to do my graduate work at
the University of Pittsburgh, Oh Perfect. And so I'd leave the office in

(09:33):
the afternoon at four thirty five o'clockand go straight to the university and then
get on about eleven o'clock at night, you know, and really enjoyed my
time up there. And finished upat the University of South Carolina with a
couple of courses and certainly benefited mypayscale a little bit. Whenever started coaching
in high school and which branch wasit, then, Fisher, I was
in the Army Army okay, Armyten and then I stayed in the in

(09:54):
the in the reserves, reserve,Okay, And I was a captain in
the reserve, and enjoyed that untilwe started having little guys and uh so
those weekends I cherished more being withthem and going off play war games,
so to speak. Absolutely, soyour highest ranked then in the Army was

(10:15):
as captain. I was a captain, Okay, Nobody ever talks about that,
Fisher. I had no idea thatyou, I know, you do
expect. Yeah, absolutely, Soyou get your master's degree and then you
also start coaching in high school ballfor about six years, right, right,
Okay, where does that kind ofcome in? Graduated? When I
graduated from Walford, I went towork just a few days after I graduated,

(10:39):
and they were building a big,big manufacturing plant there in chero and
they just started digging the foundation.And so I show up first Monday,
and I don't have gloves, Idon't have proper tire and all that.
Man. I got out from thenhome. But I worked in that construction
until it was time. And I'dtaken a high school job as an assistant

(11:01):
coach at Bnnisville, and that wasabout a town about thirteen fourteen miles from
Charrow and where our arch rivals.Well, immediately people started bad bothering me
in town because I went over thereto coach, but and teach and really
enjoyed it. And we had awonderful superintendent and principal and so one of

(11:22):
my fraternity brothers from college was alsothe basketball coach. So we was a
two new group guys on the block, so to speak, and learned and
respected the opportunity we had there,and then went off and did my service.
And then the superintendent there, Idon't know what he saw in me,
but he stayed in contact with mewhen I was in the military and

(11:45):
said, I'd love for you somedayto you know, come back. Well,
in the meantime, he had takena job at a large school district,
the largest one in the lower partof the state of South Carolina,
and wanted me to come back andso the head coach there was a man
that I respected, who had beenan outstanding athlete and had been one of
the most respected coaches in the state. And we used to scrimmage them,

(12:07):
even though they were a bigger schoolthan we, every year in football in
pre season, and I just alwayswas inspired by the way he got on
his guys, the way he motivatedhis guys, the way they coached,
and I always played pretty good wheneverwe scrimmaged them. And so then when
he found out that I was available, he called and offered me the assistant

(12:28):
coaching job in football, and thenwith the head baseball coach. And he
had been an outstanding athlete at Watfordand played both football and baseball, and
he knew that I had played baseball, and so we took the head baseball
job. And fortunately it have someand here some pretty good players that made
me look like I was a goodbaseball player. And so then when I

(12:50):
went to Watford, I did coachbaseball the first year I was there.
Oh no kidding, yeah, oh, interesting as well as football. But
when you go back to Wolfe,they have a twenty one game winning streak
during your time, all right,that also makes you look really good.
Well, it did, not thatI had that much to do with it,
But I guess the head coach,who had been the defensive coach and

(13:13):
line coach whenever I was playing,and I don't know, he saw some
things with me I didn't know Ihad myself. I guess he was the
head baseball coach too at Wolford.You know, had some success playing baseball,
and it was an average football player. But anyway, whenever he would
be coaching or recruiting in the southernpart of the state, he'd always come

(13:35):
by and we'd invite him for dinnerand he'd come by and visit with us.
And so when he became the headcoach, the first couple of years
they struggled a little bit, andthen he was beginning to feel a little
pressure, and so he had oneof the coaches to leave and he called
me and asked me if I'd liketo come, and I said, well,
Coach, I just really just tooka job with a dear friend in

(13:56):
high school as his defensive coordinator.And he said, well, this is
your school, and your school gaveyou a lot. Well, he made
me feel pretty given. We'll see, you know, pay forward. So
yeah, so he said you gotto come up here and talk. So
I went up there. Well,the head coaching football, and now they
ask let he directed at Wolford.They got me in the back room and
they said, you know, wewould like for you to come and coach

(14:18):
and be the baseball coach, andthat appealed to me, and be the
secondary coach and the defensive coach.And your coach coach Alexander, well,
he was the basketball coach and hewas very highly respected in the state and
had some great teams. I justthought what an experience that would be.
So I said, well, yeah, but I told Dick I would come

(14:39):
over to Orangeburg and he said,well, this is your school and you
deserve to come back. Your schooldid a lot for you, he said
that. I realized. I said, had I not gotten a little bit
of money for going to school,I wouldn't probably been able to go.
So then I said, well wewill. So I'll go home, and
I'm pretty excited, and Luanne's excitedfor me, and she says, well,
how much they gonna pay you?I said, Louis, we didn't

(15:03):
even talk about that. She said, well, it would be helpful to
know so I called up and Isaid, coach, we didn't talk about
my salary. What's it going tobe? And he told me, and
I said, coach, I'm makingmore money than that where I am.
And I said, on top ofthat, I was going to make a
lot more money going to Orasburg.We coach shared, and he said,

(15:26):
well, we'll make it up toyou somehow. So anyway we go,
and sure enough, that first year, we lost our first two games,
and then when one night in arow, and then end of the year,
the president there called or said andoffered me a little bit more money
than I was getting in the nextyear. We want them all and play
for the National Small College Championship,you know. And so then from then

(15:48):
Coach Breakfield got the head coaching jobat Appalachian State University, and they really
had great vision for their program,and so he asked me to go as
his first assistant. So he andI took off, you know, and
went to Appalachian and we were upthere nine years and developed that program into
a very very very compared football goodprogram. Did you talk about salary in

(16:11):
that meeting? No, I trustedfluends in here with us, and she's
shaking your head. I feel likethis was the story of your life all
throughout. Fisher, She's made alot of sacrifice, all right. So
when you get to appal Ascian status, you said you have great success,
I mean offensively, defensively. Isthat where your first exposure to the wishbone

(16:33):
offense happens? No? No,we started the wishbone at Wolford. Okay,
that's where that started. And whathappened was coach Hyfield unfortunately struggled a
little bit the first two years andknew they had to do something, and
so he was very and we'd runsome options, but he was intrigued by
the wishbone whenever he saw Notre Damein Texas play in the in the Bowl

(16:55):
game that year, and so hecalled Texas and Coach Royal was very generous
and uh sharing, and they sentus a training film and and that was
prior to my getting there, andso I had to learn the wishbone and
triple option in the summer that Iwas there before the fall. And so
we had a quarterback, very smartyoung man, and he picked it up

(17:17):
and we had sort of the rightpeople for what we were doing and got
off to a good start. Youknow, and all of a sudden we
were maybe a little head of alot of other people as to how to
stop and and so then we wontwenty one games in a row there and
played for the National Small College Championship. Coach Braakefield decided to retire, and

(17:37):
to be honest with you, withthe recruiting that we were doing at Appalachian,
it was sapping me because I wasin charge of recruiting, but we
were all over the place and Iwas beginning to miss being home as much
as I should be and with thekids. And so they offered us a
really good opportunity to go into administrationthat palaction, and I wasn't really excited

(18:02):
about that, but thought that's whatI'd like to do, and believe it,
and I do. At Appalachia,we taught a course and I enjoyed
that part of it. What youteach it was just an introductory education course
to teaching oh NEAT, but itput you in contact with the student and
you could share a lot of thingsabout athletics through that. But anyway,
Kenny Hatphil who I had met ata FCA conference one year, and we'd

(18:26):
got to be really good friends andswapped film. He was coaching the University
of Florida, and I'd send himfilm, he'd send me film. We
talked on the phone and they wererunning a lot of the Wishbone. And
so then he went to the AirForce Academy as the offensive coordinator to Bill
Parcells. Bill was only there oneyear and then they asked Kid if he'd
take the job, and he did, and they didn't have much direction that

(18:49):
first year and didn't do very well, and so he decided he was going
to run the Wishbone like they haddone. But he was enamored because at
Florida, I had sent him alot of our film and he would send
me their film, and we shareda lot about what we were doing.
So he asked me to come outand visit with him, and so we
went out and spend a week withthem. And so went on back home,

(19:11):
and a couple of weeks later,Kenny maag change on his daff and
call him, I won't know ifI'd come be the quarterback coach, and
we talked about it. Boy,that's a long way away from home,
and I neither wanted it hardly.Little been out of South and North Carolina
and so, but we thought it'dbe a good living learning experience for our

(19:33):
kids, and that flam was afun place to be and a great place
to raise a family. And werebest friends there on the ski slopes and
anytime we wanted to, and theirdaughter spent most of her life over my
house with our daughter. And ourdaughter was in horses, and so when
she found out that we had horsesat the Academy, and that's how I

(19:56):
convinced her that this was the placeto go. She could go ride in
every afternoon, whether as it turnedout, never dreamed I on a horse,
but that's one of the first thingswe did when we got color Horrison.
So and she did very well.She never won big money, but
if she wanted enough money to budeby the to justify the horse, to
buy the grain and so anyway,so that was nineteen eighty Fisher. When

(20:19):
you came, I was nineteen eightyColorado, and it was the first time
you'd been to Colorado. When youcame out that week before, and Kenny
knew I loved to ski, andI skated a lot in North Carolina,
and so he had the staff totake me ski in that Wednesday and we've
spent all the all that Wednesday ofskiing. I called Loui in that night.
I said, I'm the best skierin North Carolina. She said,

(20:42):
what are you talking about. Isaid, you can't believe it. You
can ski forever and ever and everand ever and never have to stop.
I mean, you just get onanother lift and go to another run.
And so she could tell I waspretty excited about it, and you you
would be exciting venture for the kids. And we trusted God that this was

(21:03):
the right thing for our family todo and felt that he was leading us
in that direction. And so that'show we ended up in a good decision
for that. Absolutely, you areone year as the quarterback coach and then
you go to offensive coordinator. Prettyquick transition there. Well, yeah,
we were doing what we did atWatford pretty much and nomenclature and play calling

(21:29):
and everything, and so that's whathe saw that wanted me to do.
When I came in, one ofthe coaches had gone to Notre Dame and
so I opened the door. Butcoaches really accepted us, and we just
had a great fraternity and family ofcoaching and did a lot together. Our
whole program was what I believed in, meaning family oriented, and then we

(21:52):
knew we had a big job todo, so we worked our families off
in recruiting, and we went someplaces that I never told Loue. Well,
I went because I was lucky toget back home. But we found
a lot of great players who werealso academically very qualified and just needed the
opportunity to find a place like theAcademy. But we really did work extremely

(22:15):
hard in recruiting, and I thinkthat's what's always so admirable. And now
Coach Calhoun does the same thing.Where at the Academy or any of the
service academies, you've got to findnot only a great athlete, but also
a young man that's willing to alsoserve their country that is high academics.
I mean, it's a certain typeof person. You can't just go anywhere

(22:36):
and just recruit anybody. So whatchallenges did that present to you and your
staff then as you ended up beingthe head coach a few years later after
Coach Hatfield left for Arkansas, Well, it presented a lot because I don't
think kids knew that much or coachesknew that much. They knew that we
were beginning to win at the academyand you we were running the wishbone and

(22:59):
it was something new in college football, and of course teams like Texas or
usually in and that certainly helped thecredibility, I thought. But yeah,
finding the right kid and you getturned down awful lot. No, coach,
I don't think I want to marchfor four years. Yeah, because
there's a lot more to just goin to football practice. There's a lot

(23:22):
going on there. But the thingwe did we sold the education and what
the education could mean to you,whether you became a career officer or whether
you stayed in the military as youknow, as a career, but the
opportunities to fly, and we soldall the positive things and we let them
realize that it was going to betough, but there wasn't anything that they

(23:44):
couldn't handle them with our encouragement andsupport. But it would make him just
that much better football player too.You become the head coach after coach Hatfield
leaves for Arkansas after the eighty threeseason. Then in your first initial press
conference, you had four goals.First one beat Army and Navy, second
one win the conference, third beatNotre Dame, and fourth win Bowl games

(24:07):
check mark, check mark, checkmark, check mark throughout the next twenty
one seasons, which is just amazing. We had some good people, yes,
and great staff. That was oneof your things, too, ready
to say a lot of your coachesare with you for several several years,
and God led me to those coaches, and I knew a lot of those
coaches ahead of time. And coaching, you know, really is just a

(24:29):
big for turnity, that's all itis. And I don't think the fraternal
feeling today among coaches is what itwas back in the eighties, nineties now
early two thousand. But they haveso many other issues now that they have
to deal with with the portal andNIL and all that, and it's just

(24:52):
unfortunate. But it takes a lotof time. But certainly with my experience
in coaching there Wolfed and Appalachian andpeople thought I talked funny still in Colorado,
so I thought it was better toget me some coaches that could talk
Southern ees understand what you're saying.So I went back and got some guys
out of the South and had BruceJohnson who was coaching at LSU, and

(25:17):
Bruce had played for me at Woffordand was a great leader in cal Maccombs
who was coaching at the Citadel andbeen a great player at the Citadel.
And Jim Grove we'd been at Marshall, and Kenny Rucker who had been an
outstanding player at Tennessee and then atCarson Human and you know, just the
associations that I'd met with a lotof great people, and of course we

(25:37):
kept some of the great coaches wehad at Watford too. That meshed very,
very very well. And of coursewe haven't start winning, and winning
helps a lot of things. Itdoes. Yeah, talk about the Commander
in Chief's Trophy because fourteen out ofyour twenty one seasons your team wins that
well, I don't think anybody reallyunderstands the intensity and the competitiveness unless you've

(26:00):
been a part of that. Youknow, and it's good, good competition
and good rivalry and good for collegefootball, but good for the kids and
the participants themselves. But you knowyou're going to really get your best effort
because you don't want to lose toyour sister academy. So we took great
pride in that. Of course,the thing I enjoyed doing was going back

(26:21):
and meeting different presidents in the UnitedStates because that was what I owned there.
If you want to go to Washingtonspent a couple of days and meet
the commander in chief, I said, you know, we need to go
play real well today. And thosewere really definitely highlights to coaching at the
Academy was the trips that we wereable to go back to. Which presidents
did you meet? Oh, Imet President Bush Senior and President Bush and

(26:45):
President Clinton and then I think otherwisethat might have trying to think of your
twenty one years, but that wouldhave probably been right unless, well Reagan
was eighty four. Did you meetPresident Reagan? Yeah, there you go,
President Reagan too. Any special memoriesfrom meeting any of the presidents,
that's pretty incredible. Yeah. Whenwe first met President Bush Senior, he's

(27:07):
so personable. And his junior officerthat you know went around with him was
Mike Goo, who later became thesuperintendent at the Air Force Academy. Dear
friend who'd been a fine player atthe Academy for Coach Martin and was just
a big support and big help tome. But he was President Bush's kind
of right hand person, go forit whenever he needed that. He'd make

(27:33):
trips with the President Bush when he'dgo up to Cannicut and they'd go jogging
together and all, and I'll neverforget one day we were standing in the
roach room as the White House.There we received the trophy and we're just
having a good time. We invitedSt. Thurman from South Carolina, and
of course our congressional people from Colorado. And President looked over and said,

(27:57):
Coach, what's y'all gonna do now? And I said, surfers are with
you. We would like to gaina tour of your house. He said,
well, come in minute, sohe took me into his office.
So we're standing there and he said, you know, I, I guess,
have so much respect for these youngmen, and you know what they
encountered and what they're going to dowith their lives and what they've done,

(28:17):
and I'd just like to meet theseone of them personally. In fact,
I said, mis President, youdon't have to do that. You come
on port of things. I said, they appreciate just the opportunity of shaking
your hand and just be in here. And he was so personal, like
you said, and I encountered himseveral other times after that his memory was
just unbelievable, but he said,oh, I'm serious. So I went

(28:37):
back out and huddled the guys up, and I said, the President wants
to meet you individually. And Isaid, rather than me introducing you,
you come in and tell him where, what position you play, where you're
from, and what you're planning todo, and my study and blah blah
blah. He'll carry it on fromthere. And for an hour he took
time with each one of those kids, shook their hand, and had a

(29:00):
picture taken of each one of them. And now a month or so later,
each one of those kids received thepresident his picture and he's standing there
in the Oval office. Now,you thought that was just the most unbelievable
thing in the world, and justtaught me a lot about being about humility,
you know. And but I'll neverforget one of our kids. And

(29:26):
he was a really good player andtough guy, and you know, very
competitive. So he comes in andhe gets about four or five steps from
the President, he says, myname is I can't speak at all.
I'll never forget that. But ohmy gosh, but those kind of experiences

(29:48):
for them, and of course thatwas worth letting that trophy, and they
would go back and you know,talk to the younger kids that this is
what we got to keep going.And we were just blessed to have opportunities
like that. Clinton, I meanperson Clinton, excuse me. Uh and
I were talking, of course,he was from Arkansas and Jenny Fods coaching
at Arkansas at the time. Wewere good friends and started talking about football

(30:11):
at Arkansas and uh and they wereplaying uh, Hail to the Chief,
and he was supposed to be goingout the door with us in the superintendent
of the academy. He kept talking, he kept talking, talking, and
they played the Chief three timels.Well, maybe we better go and findly
this is aid knocked on the door, said, mister President. Everybody's waiting

(30:33):
on you out here, so wego out. He most generously, you
know, acknowledged the kids. Butexperiences like that, Oh that's amazing,
stay with you. Absolutely, that'sreally neat. So is the Commander in
Chief trophy more important at a serviceacademy than winning a conference championship? No
question there was with me. Choryis down searching a wonderful job, continuing

(30:56):
the excellence and continuing the attitude ofabout the Trophy and imporners. But that
was the number one goal whenever Iwas the head coach, and we put
all of our energy and effort inthe off season into preparing, you know,
and being prepared for them, andfortunately we were able to be very

(31:17):
successful most of the time. Yeah, I figured that would be your answer,
but I wanted to make sure.In two thousand and one, I
wanted to talk about a story whenyou had to You suspended twelve players they
had missed curfew and you had askedthem to come in. You asked all
the players, hey, who wasit that missed curfew? Guys stepped up
and said it was me, andyou suspended players for the last game.

(31:37):
But then the ones that were leftstill went out and were able to beat
Utah. That was a significant timebecause it was where you said, hey,
listen, I'm having to prepare younot just for a football game,
but for defending our country. Andthis is important that you understand that rules
are rules. And I'm just curiousas you look back on that story now,
I mean it was that was abig deal then, because they're there's

(32:00):
no coach out there that's going totake out half his starting lineup for missing
curfew, especially player in Utah especially, but it was the grace of God
we somehow won that game and theyfumbled right, but it was the principle
of it. Yeah, talk aboutthat mentality and how that was very important
to you, which is commendable becausethese are guys and kids that are going

(32:22):
to go out and defend our country. Well, these are tough times and
these are the lessons that you needto know. And you're no bigger than
the team, and the team alwayscame first, and we felt and prided
ourselves in a strong botherhood. Andthe last thing I would ever say to
our team whenever we left to goon to the field, the play is
don't let your brother do play yourbest today. You know, we got

(32:45):
a pretty good effort from our playersand Hu Tah helped us that day and
fumble right then we came. Weheld on to it. But I think
they all learned a good lesson fromthat. And it was very tough because
some of the kids that didn't playwere seniors and that was the last home
game. But I think he sentit gave a great message to our football

(33:06):
team about a responsibility to each other. Absolutely so, and you know those
lessons and decisions that they would haveto make, and I'm sure some of
them made a lot bigger decisions thanthat whenever they became leaders and officers in
their respective commands. Absolutely, inDecember of two thousand and six, you
retire, You go into the CollegeFootball Hall of Fame. A few years

(33:28):
after that, you're in the ColoradoSports Hall of Fame. You've been Coach
of the Year multiple times by differententities. You started your Fisher DeBerry Foundation.
What has retirement been like for you? You and Lewanne are going on
sixty years of marriage here, comingup in just another month or so,
which, by the way, youand Lewanne grew up about a block away
from each other in your little smalltown. You've known each other forever,

(33:49):
haven't you. Yeah? Literally,she says I'm older than she is.
I'm just three years older, sedher, But yeah, knew who she
was. But that's a long storyshort. How'd you guys meet? I
knew her and your family, andwe grew up in the same church.
And I was home taking a courseat South Carolina to finish up that master's

(34:15):
degree, and I was coaching downin Florence, and I had a teammate
to call me and said, I'vebeen trying to get a date with a
classmate of mine and he hadn't beensuccessful for a year or so, and
he said, but I finally gotthat date, and so I'm coming to
Cheryl, which was our hometown,and he said, can we get together?

(34:37):
And I said, well, I'dlove to see you. I said,
but I've got a wedding I gotto go to, I said,
dear family friend. And it's abig wedding in town, and there is
a pool party after the wedding.And I said, but I don't have
a date. I said, butI got to go to this wedding.
And so I go to the weddingwithout a date. At the reception,
I'm standing there and I'm sort ofthem a step looking down, and everybody

(35:01):
was in the corner of the bighome there, and and I see this
pretty girl standing over in the cornerwith her mother, and I knew who
she was, and so I walkedover and he said, don't go to
the pool party. She looked atme and she said, well, I
don't know, so she she agreed, and so we quickly ran home and

(35:28):
got a little more casual attire,and we went to the pool party.
Well, my friend didn't behave himselfquite well that night. I was a
little embarrassed, and I didn't wanther to think, you know that I
was really you were like your friends, but my friend. And so next
night I said, I'd love foryou to go back out with me and
we could go to a movie.Well, it turned out we ended up

(35:51):
going to the movie with two othercouples to drive in theater. Oh,
to see Bye Bye Bertie with ElvisPresley. Six people in one car.
Imagine what that first day was reallylike. So then I came on back
and I said, you know,so then I asked her out a week

(36:13):
later and she went with me.And so sixty years later, here you
are later, two kids and severalgrandchildren later, right, wow, eight
grandchildren, two great grandchildren. Oneof them graduated last night from preschool.
Wow. And she actually she's aboutin the sixth grade. She's huge as

(36:34):
a button. And we were havinga time of our lives, you know,
living in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Inever dreamed I'd live in Oklahoma,
but both our children lived there andraising their families, and oh, grandparents
and great grand parents. That's fantastic. So retirement's been fun. Oh,
it really is. Yeah, Andyou continue to do great things philanthropy wise.

(36:55):
You're in town for your annual coachesgave that you do talk about what
you're doing now with your charity work. Well, it's our Coaches Night for
charity. We've been doing this nowthis will be number seventeen. The whole
intent is to show that there's alot more to coaching than just lining up
and button heads, and we haveresponsibilities to the communities. And I just

(37:17):
respected admire so much the coaches ofColorado, and we started one in North
Carolina and South Carolina. That's nice. They have shown that the real interest
in wanting to give back to thecommunities, because communities give so much to
you. And I was always veryconscious of this in Colorado Springs. I
wanted to support anything I could inthe community because the community always gave back

(37:45):
so much and support and of coursewe drew some big, big crowds at
the Falcon Stadium and through all thatstadium up a number of times, and
it was not just the football.I think they appreciate the fact that we
were very much involved in the community, but such a big need in our
society today. There's just so muchgoing on that needs to be addressed.

(38:09):
And a single parent family. I'mtold that over fifty percent of the kids
in this country now being raised ina single parent family. And it makes
it tough for a lot of kids, you know how that is. And
it's tough, and most of thesekids end up living with mothers, you
know, mothers sometimes has to worktwo or three jobs. Sometimes kids can't

(38:30):
have the same opportunities that other kidshave. Well, we want to fill
that void with our foundation, andso we think certainly by getting as many
kids as we can to go toSummer Fellowship Christian Athlete camps. We know
if they go that they can certainlyimprove their skills, they certainly can compete,

(38:50):
but that they can learn a lotabout leadership and about commitment and about
life and certainly if they can makea faith decision for their life at camp,
take all that back to their respectivehigh schools because they are the leaders,
because they and can be leaders intheir respective schools, that they can
change the heart and soul of theschool that they represent where they go to

(39:13):
school. And we do know thereare a lot of challenges in school today
that weren't there fifteen years. Ohmy gosh, Yes, absolutely. I
have two more questions for you.You've got to be a part of a
lot of military games. Obviously someof them were kind of double military if
you were in one of those Navyor army games as well. There's so
much pomp and circumstance at the militarygames. What was one of your favorite

(39:37):
things that never got old? Forme, it'd be the flyovers are just
so awe inspiring when the flyovers happened. But there's just so many neat traditions
that happen with those games. Whatdo you know, like, the game
is a lot bigger than you andyeah, the game involves our nation.
Yeah, because I think a respectthat our nation does have for the military,

(40:00):
the decisions that a lot of thesekids are making. And the thing
that psyches me about having had theprivilege of coaching at the academy is what
the kids do with their lives afterthey leave. I mean, we've had
one of our All American players wasshot down in rock and he was received
by the President of the United States. When he came home, he was
rescued by one of his flymates.You never let your brother down. And

(40:23):
that was the foundation of our program, is that you don't ever let your
brother down. The calling is justso much bigger than yourself. And of
course you know they're going to beour air forces. That's a big responsibility
to see that they take the rightcourses, see that they do the right
things, and see that they respectthe opportunity they have. And I wouldn't

(40:46):
trade the experience for anything in theworld. But we certainly stayed deficult.
Couldn't get a job anywhere else,you know, I'm sorry. A lot
of success fissure, so that mighthave been a part of it. Okay,
So last question I have for youthen, And it was funny.

(41:06):
We were driving over here and Isaid, you never got fired as a
coach, which is so rare becausecoaches are hired to get fired. You
were able to just kind of keepmoving up the ladder and then when it
was time you retire. But thereare always ups and downs if you're in
coaching. There's going to be winningseasons and losing seasons. When you talk
to people and throughout your life,when you have been toward young people,

(41:28):
what do you tell people as faras when those downtimes come, how to
kind of get through those and keepmoving forward. Tough times don't last.
What tough people do. We statedthe Academy because we love the Academy,
and we love what the Academy stoodfor, and we love the opportunities that
presented to young people. We lovethe challenge of trying to convince a young

(41:49):
man to come to the academy.But we knew that our air Force,
because of the technology and everything,we needed the right people and competitive people.
And so it was the mission ofKoching as the Academy is a lot
higher and just winning football games.But I'm sure there was some people at
times that, well, I thinkhe's getting old. I think we ought

(42:10):
to fire you, but they nevertold me that. But you know,
I think it comes to time foreverybody, and you always wonder. But
I think when leu Ann and Imade that decision, and that decision was
based primarily it was time for usto spend more time with our own family.
Yeah, and you knew it wastime. We knew it was the

(42:31):
right time. Yeah. If I'dhave stayed owned, I'd have probably been
firing sometime. I don't know.Well, I'm glad you weren't. And
again, Fisher, this was sofun. Thank you for giving me some
time. I know it's a busy, busy weekend when you come into town
for this, and I really appreciateit. This was great to hear more
of your story and learn more aboutyou. I've known you for a long

(42:52):
time through all my work at CSU, and this was a lot of fun.
And I got to meet lu Annefor the first time, which was
great. And you guys have justyou have such a great, great life
and have made such a great impacton so many people. Well, you've
met the boss, I did whatevernew andbus is what do we do so

(43:13):
that way you can you can hangon for a long time, you can
we want We won a few games, so home for a long time.
You've done very well. Yes,yeah, I feel so blessed. And
our whole thing now is that wewant to help others just have an opportunity
that that we've had. But we'rereally enjoying watching our grandsons Uh play and

(43:35):
granddaughter is quite a talented volleyball player, and our daughters three boys have all
played very competitively and we've got achance to see them play in college and
and so it's It's been a lotof a lot of fun to ride,
but we still look eagerly forward touh many more years for the foundation and
many more ways in which we couldserve. I love it. Thanks Fissure,

(43:58):
appreciated coach. Thank you sir,Thank you coach. I could listen
to him all day. If youwant more information about his foundation, please
check out the podcast notes. Newepisodes of Cut, Traded, Fired,
Retired come out every Tuesday. Pleasedownload and like this podcast wherever you listen
to podcasts, and keep up onnew releases by following on Twitter and Instagram
at ctfur podcast and also on thewebsite ctfurpodcast dot com. I'm your host,

(44:23):
Susie Wargen. To find out moreabout me, visit susiewargin dot com.
Thanks for listening, and until nexttime, please be careful, be
safe, and be kind. Takecare.
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