Terry Crowder has never had an opportunity like this.
In his long career as a football coach, Crowder has been around powerhouse programs, winning a state title as defensive coordinator at Camden County in 2003 and head coach at Chattahoochee in 2010. He's had chances to mold programs to his image as head coach, with the Cougars and then at Creekview in Cherokee County, where he had coached since 2013.
But at Denmark High School, he can do something much different, much more significant. Crowder's hire as the first football coach of Forsyth County's newest high school was approved at the county Board of Education meeting on Tuesday night, officially giving him the opportunity to build a program from the ground up.
"I can look back and have no fingers to point at anybody but myself," Crowder said. "This is what we built, football-wise, and I really look forward to doing that."
Crowder had served as the head coach at Creekview since 2013. The Grizzlies went 31-22 with him at the helm and had a winning record every season except 2016.
Prior to that, Crowder was the head coach at Chattahoochee for nine seasons, compiling a 60-40 record and winning the Class 4A state championship in 2010. Due to multiple region realignments, the Cougars faced each Forsyth County public school during Crowder’s time with the program, going 13-3 in those games. During the state championship season, Chattahoochee beat Lambert, Forsyth Central and South Forsyth.
Now he can build the county's next program, and has almost complete control in doing so. In Crowder's previous head coaching gigs, he was hamstrung in how he built his staff: He said he brought three assistants to Chattahoochee and two to Creekview, inheriting the rest of the coaches. But Denmark, being a new school, has the teaching vacancies required for Crowder to personally hire a full staff of 10.
"It's mind-boggling to me a bit," Crowder said. "Because there's so many good coaches out there that I want them all."
He has seven in the fold so far, including Matt Hollis, Crowder's defensive coordinator at Creekview; Ryan Corbett, the defensive coordinator of the state title team at Chattahoochee; and Rodney Satterfield, his offensive coordinator at Chattahoochee and Creekview. Crowder said he'll bring the spread-based offense that he ran at Creekview over to Denmark.
"From what I'm hearing, I think we've got some great receivers coming over (to Denmark)," Crowder said. "This system's been successful for us for a long time now."
Denmark principal Heather Gordy first met Crowder this past fall, when she went to see Creekview play at Cherokee. Gordy couldn't see the kind of enthusiasm Crowder would generate for a home game, but she was impressed with what she saw from the Grizzlies' players.
"His kids were really engaged and excited about the game, and I think that speaks a lot to the head coach as well," Gordy said.
Gordy saw that Crowder's resume, with his hand in multiple state championships, could inspire confidence in the Danes' players, and she also saw a "people person" who could build relationships with the whole community.
Crowder, in return, said that the relationships he developed with Gordy and Denmark athletic director Jamie Corr were the deciding factor in taking the job.
"I just think they're great people, and I'm going to be happy working with them," Crowder said.
Crowder is the first head coach that Denmark has hired. The school is located in the southwest part of the county and is set to open in the fall of 2018. The program will play a full varsity schedule next year and will compete in Region 7-4A.