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Brookhaven benefits from leaders like this

The Panther faithful are no doubt saddened to see Brookhaven coach Tommy Clopton stepping down.

But who can blame a father for wanting to spend more time with his son?

“I’m looking forward to the opportunity to watch Trace. He’s played 40-some-odd games for me and I’ve never watched him play. I was too busy working,” Clopton said. “The only time I got to see him was when I watched film.”

Clopton has been a steady hand for the football team through several unthinkable tragedies. It was his leadership that guided young athletes forward as they dealt with death too soon. He was a good coach — leading the Panthers to an 11-2 season in 2017 — but his value to Brookhaven was bigger than that.

“Over the past three years with the tragedies and everything else we’ve had to face, one thing my class has learned is how to put one foot in front of the other and keep pressing,” junior offensive lineman Coker Wright said. “We’re going to miss coach Clopton a lot. He was a father figure to most all of us.”

“He’s been my coach for three years. He’s showed me a lot, taught me a lot about the game, taught me a lot about believing in God and Christ,” junior wide receiver John Hilbert said. “But we weren’t upset. We understand he had to do what’s best for his family and his life.”

Clopton’s faith is a large part of his approach to coaching. So many young men in Brookhaven are better off for having played under him.

We hope he continues to have that kind of influence in his new role as assistant principal at the high school, and in his ongoing role as athletic director. And we hope his successor is cut from the same cloth.