Updated to reflect his specific teaching position and his master’s degree in education.
BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Fort Madison is looking to a new head football coach for bringing glory back to Richmond Stadium. But the new coach says his success barometer is a program that brings the community together.
Tony Shiffman, a 34-year-old offensive line coach and run game coordinator at Rossview High School in Clarksville, Tenn. was officially hired by the Fort Madison School District Board of Directors on Monday. He also teaches P.E at the school.
Shiffman was also hired to teach English for the high schools Creative Learning Center. He has a master’s degree in education.
Fort Madison Athletic Director Andy Mitchell said it didn’t take long to realize that Shiffman was the guy for the school and the program.
“We had 13 applicants and we narrowed that down to five that we were going to interview. It was apparent right away speaking with Coach Shiffman that we would be interested in speaking with him a second time,” Mitchell said.
“It was very evident we were dealing with a young man who had a lot of passion and a lot of energy. He has a very strong football background. And at the same time, we could tell he had very high character standards for athletes in the program and that didn’t change when we had him up for a personal interview.”
The character came ringing through when Shiffman spoke about youth football programs and how to build a program in a community while protecting players at the earliest stages.
“The show “Friday Night Tykes”…that was a travesty in my opinion. Seeing those kids out there playing like they’re pros, ducking their heads. That’s just horrible for the sport,” Shiffman said Wednesday.
Shiffman said he didn’t get into pads until 6th grade and it’s critical at this point to teach proper techniques so young players know how to play the game safely and competitively.
“I don’t want to preach that, but it can be done the right way.”
He also said that it’s important that young athletes play all sports when they are young to find the sport that fits them best.
“I put the pads on for the first time in sixth grade and it turned out OK for me.”
Talking Xs and Os, Shiffman kept things a little close to the chest.
“We’ll run a spread offense, but we will be physical and we will run the football,” he said.
The Illinois College graduate comes to Fort Madison after getting a note from former Bloodhounds Peter Jennings, Brad Linares, and Justin Menke who all played with Shiffman at Illinois College. He also spoke with Mike Brooks, a former FMHS coach.
“They told me about the position and said I should look into it. Coach Mitchell told me the town is excited about its football program and that’s what got me excited,” Shiffman said.
“Our conversations centered around the support of the community and if we do things the right way, I think we’ll get the support and have a community football team. That’s very important to me,” he said.
Mitchell said numbers in the program, despite going down, were not a concern or a heavy topic.
“That never really came up as a concern. We talked to him about last year’s numbers being down. Our senior class is not big right now, but we hope that’s not a trend. We knew that to a point but at the end of the year last year we were up quite a bit of kids. We had confidence that even if things didn’t change, our numbers would be ok,” Mitchell said.
The coach said he’ll be in town on April 28 to meet with school officials and members of the community and plans to be in the community at the end of May.
Shiffman got his teaching certificate from North Carolina-Roanoke and is looking forward to meeting all the students and parents in the community.