Class of 2012
To say that coaching is in Jerry Elmore’s blood would be an understatement. Elmore will be inducted into the Limestone County Sports Hall of Fame next weekend for a coaching career spanning two decades. The longtime football coach learned from the best. His father, Ferman Elmore was a 2005-inductee into the Hall of Fame.
“I guess everyone has a tendency to want to be like their dad,” Elmore said. “I don’t know if I did a lot things like dad did. The game had changed so much since he coached compared to when I started. He really believed in fundamentals. He had about eight or 10 plays that he really knew how to run.”
Elmore may have run a few more than eight plays in his coaching career, but was still influenced by his Hall of Fame father. After playing for Ferman at Athens High School, Jerry went to Vanderbilt on a football scholarship. A knee injury ended what was a promising young career for Elmore, but his football days were far from over.
“I believe Jerry would have gone on and been a star at the college level, if he wouldn’t have gotten hurt,” said Corky Jones, who played with Elmore at Athens from 1963-66. “He was one of those that played from the time he was in eighth grade. He started for Athens High School before any of the rest of us were ever on varsity. He was always a good player.”
Jones, who played quarterback for Athens, remembers running the quarterback-option with Elmore.
“We played the wingback formation,” Jones said. “We had a tailback and fullback. And he wasn’t just a blocking back. He did a lot of running with the football as a fullback. Jerry and I’s best plays were the quarterback option.”
Former Athens coach and family friend Larry McCoy said he remembers Elmore from the moment he stepped on the field. The former Athens coach began his career with Ferman Elmore at Dothan and followed him to Athens in 1963.
“I saw him grow up playing since he was an eighth-grader. He started all four years at Athens,” McCoy recalled. “Coaching was kind of in the Elmore blood. A lot of his relatives were in coaching. Jerry was an excellent athlete and a fine young man.”
While Elmore was a great athlete during his playing days, his true talent was on the sidelines where became a graduate assistant coach while earning his master’s degree in 1971 from UNA.
“From the time he was a junior in high school, it was pretty apparent that he had that knack and ability and that’s what he wanted too,” said Jimmy Elmore, Jerry’s brother.
Elmore made the move to the prep level where he became an assistant coach at Austin and Cullman high schools. In 1979, Elmore became the head coach of Cullman where he took the Bearcats to the state playoffs in his first season as coach.
After being raised on the gridiron with Jerry, Jimmy Elmore said he noticed similarities between his brother’s and father’s coaching style.
“Very organized,” Jimmy said about Jerry’s coaching style. “My dad was that way. When you went on to that field in practice, you knew how much time he was going to spend on each team. And I saw some of the same things when Jerry’s team were on the field.”
Jerry Elmore agreed with his brother.
“My dad was a big disciplinarian,” Elmore said. “It didn’t matter if you were a good player or bad player. Everybody had to buy into the system. That was the biggest thing that I learned from him. I didn’t spend much time talking with mommas and daddies because the kids knew they had to do it my way.”
Elmore implemented that no-nonsense attitude as head coach at Oneonta in 1983. Elmore then parlayed a successful season at Oneonta into a job at Class 5A Fort Payne where he soon became a legend after leading the school to its first playoff game in 1984.
“It was easy because the kids bought into what we were doing,” Elmore said. “We won a lot of games early on. We had a lot of good talent and it became hard to find people to play. I had a lot of good coaches, good people. It’s been a good experience.”
Elmore coached at the school until 1998 and left as the winningest coach in Fort Payne history. Elmore won five area championships and led Fort Payne to its first 10-win season during his tenure. He was inducted into the DeKalb County Sports Hall of Fame in 2002.
“I am really honored,” Elmore said. “Especially because my dad has already been inducted. There are a lot of people in that Hall of Fame who were my heroes growing up. I’m really proud to be put with that group.”
Elmore’s son, Chris, is well on his way to following in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps as the offensive coordinator at Hueytown High School. The third-generation football coach is proving that coaching truly is in the Elmore blood.