Frontline Responders: Chris Gully of Kemper Academy

Published: May. 15, 2022 at 4:08 PM CDT
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DEKALB, Miss. (WTOK) -

Chris Gully has just about done it all at Kemper Academy. The 1991 graduate spends a large chunk of his time at his alma mater in a variety of jobs and says there’s something very special about a small school, small town experience.

“It’s a family type atmosphere,” says Gully. “Every morning, one of the things that I do is I greet every student at the front door. I unload the elementary and greet the high school. There’s some I have to take out of car seats and some I have to unbuckle their seat belt. I either get a hug, a knuckle bump, a high five or something every day. I get to see every kid, every day.”

Gully is a coach on the Rams football team and also serves as a bible teacher, sponsor of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and is a music instructor.

“Grandparents always want to see their babies doing things. Just this past Monday night we had our spring music where we featured songs of the southeastern United States. We had everything from Willie Nelson to Lynyrd Skynyrd. We had a great time.”

But get Gully talking about Friday nights in the Fall, and his eyes light up. “My favorite time of the year. My favorite thing as far as being a coach is seeing a young person do something that they didn’t think they could do. You teach them how to do it and encourage them to do it and push them even when they think I can’t do this and it thrills my heart to see someone do something they didn’t think they could do.”

“Anytime you score a touchdown or something he’s always the first one over there to congratulate you,” said Colton Kynerd, a sophomore on the Kemper Academy football team. “It’s always fun being around him. He’s a good guy and he always helps you out. He wants you to do the best you can and if he knows you can do better. He’s going to yell at you but every coach is supposed to.”

And when the coach is on the field, there’s two words that always gets the players attention: “He pushes us by his two favorite words,” said Thomas Mattox, a freshman with the Rams. “Hurry back. If you ever make a mistake or do something he doesn’t like, he’s always going to push you harder. Hurry back.”

“Hurry back means after you’ve made a mistake and it’s usually a bonehead mistake like jumping offsides or a false start that you should never, ever do,” added Gully. “It’s two simple words. I don’t have to yell. Hey guys. Hurry back and they automatically know they’re going to run. They get one lap all the way around the field so we can do it right next time.”

Chris Gully, a part of Kemper Academy since beginning first grade back in 1979. He also pastors two churches in Kemper County and is involved in youth baseball.

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