Coach's Corner: Vardaman's Larry Gann
Vardaman Head Coach Larry Gann has been through both valley and mountaintop experiences. Gann is the head coach of the Vardaman Rams, and I have had the pleasure of working with him closely on numerous occasions. Gann was the coach at Vardaman during the 1980s, and returned to VHS in 2013 after Coach Justin Hollis departed for Myrtle. Coach Gann was kind enough to sit down and answer some questions I had for him.
SES: So you've been coaching a long time. When you came back to Vardaman, you experienced a long “dry spell” so to speak followed by some recent success. Even though you have a lot of years in the coaching business, have these past few years taught you anything new?
Gann: To stay with the core principles that I have operated by through the years. If you believe in operating a certain way and it has been successful more times than not, then I believe a person is well served to stick to his/her principles. You can't operate one way when you are winning and another way when things aren't going well. You have to have something to hang your hat on. For me, it is hard work, discipline, dedication and accountability to each member of the team and coaches.
SES: So what made you want to come back to Vardaman? You obviously had some success in your first stint here, but what made you return?
Gann: I wanted to coach, and I thought I still had something to give the sport. I was looking for a job, not necessarily a head job. Mr. [Porter] Casey knew this, and when he had an opening, he called, and after meeting with him, I decided to accept the job. He told me there were going to be a few down years because of the group that had graduated, and I thought I could help.
SES: What's your outlook on this upcoming season? Obviously you have to replace some core talent in Brandon Washington and Deon Johnson, but you return others like Trae [Owen] and Patrick [Pratt].
Gann: I expect this group of seniors to set the tone for the team. Most of them have been through the tough times and know what it takes to be successful. Replacing this year's seniors will certainly be a challenge, but their contributions to the program helped set the expectations of what it takes to be a Ram football player. It isn't easy, and it's certainly not for everyone.
SES: So let's talk about uniforms. You like them classic. So do I. What was your thought process on bringing back the “Rams” logo, and tell me the story of how it was created.
Gann: I started using it the third year when I was here the first time. Was looking for something a little different but that fit our personality. I saw it in a decal book and liked it. Coach [Mark] Bray continued to use it most of the time he was at VHS. I wanted something that when people saw it, they would know it was the Vardaman Rams without having to have “Vardaman” spelled out. I knew I didn't care for the ram horns [a previous VHS helmet design], so I thought since some of my former players and David Ward raised the money to have our helmets painted, bringing back some tradition would be good. Michael Kindall led the process.
The Rams went 7-5 last season and were eliminated in the opening round of the playoffs. They open their 2017 campaign on Thursday, August 17 at South Pontotoc.