Deshler’s John Mothershed Connected With Students on and off the Field

                          By Bill Plott
                                          AHSAA Historian


          Longtime Deshler High School head football coach John Mothershed displayed an innate ability to connect with students – on and off the football field.
          Current Deshler principal Russ Tate supports that assessment.
          “Coach Mothershed was not only a winner on the football field, but also a great teacher,” Tate said. “I have been told by many former teachers and students about his amazing ability to connect with students first in the classroom and then on the field. His teaching ability was respected by all members of the faculty at Deshler High School.”
          Mothershed is being inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2018 at the Hall of Fame banquet March 19 at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center. He compiled a 201-53 head-coaching record at Deshler from 1995-2013.
          Molding youngsters into men was his even bigger accomplishment, Tate said.
         “While his athletic accomplishments are numerous and most deserving of this award, we must never forget why we are in this business of education, and that is to mold and develop the minds of our youth,” Tate said. “Coach Mothershed took the same principles that he taught to his players and used them to impact the entire school. He was a teacher first and coach second.”
          A native of Florence, John Mothershed attended Sheffield High School where he lettered in football and wrestling. He was All-Area in football during his senior season and a state runner-up in wrestling in the 155-pound weight class.

          After high school, he attended the University of North Alabama where he received his bachelor’s degree in 1985. While in college, he actually began his high school coaching career, serving as assistant wrestling coach. After graduation he returned to his alma mater as assistant football coach.

          In 1987 he left Sheffield and accepted a position as teacher and assistant at Deshler High School. From 1987-94 he worked with Coach Tandy Gerelds, a 2016 Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame inductee. During those eight years with Gerelds, Mothershed helped develop a program that was in the state playoffs every year, including 1990 when the Tigers won the state championship with a 15-0 record. Deshler was also runner-up the following year.

          In 1995 he was promoted to head football coach and athletic director. He gave up the athletic director position in 2007 to concentrate on coaching, a role he held until 2013. Deshler won his 200th game in the final regular season game in 2013, a 49-20 win over North Jackson. During his career at Deshler, Mothershed had the following accomplishments:

·       An overall record of 201-53, a 71% winning mark

·       Class 4A State Championships in 1998 and 1999

·       Class 4A runners-up in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2010

·       13 Area and Region championships with a record of 103-13

·       In the state playoffs each of his 19 years, advancing to the third round in all but three of those years, with an overall playoff record of 49-17


     “(I think) every coach (at Deshler) will be measured against his success,” Tate said. “Coach Mothershed was a winner and invoked a winning attitude into every sport here at Deshler High School. I was lucky enough to watch from afar while Coach Mothershed was the head football coach, and it was one of the first scores I always tried to find on Friday night during football season.
   “During Mothershed’s tenure as coach, he accumulated a multitude of playoff victories, won back-to-back state titles, finished as state runner-up numerous times, and concluded his coaching career with a 201-53 record.  That is why every coach who will ever patrol the sidelines at Deshler High School will have a difficult challenge of measuring up to the standard that Coach Mothershed established.”

          In a 2009 interview with Sean Lowery, Mothershed talked of his coaching philosophy.

          “All eyes are on you, and the more successful your program, the more eyes are on you. It kind of goes to Matthew 5:14, ‘You are the light of the world.’ Those that are behind you look to you for leadership. Those that are against you watch closely to see if you stumble so they can pounce on that,” he said.

           Asked how you handle that kind of pressure, Coach Mothershed said, “You just do what you can do. You’re just a man, and you’re not anything more than that. So, you just focus on your job and doing your job. You don’t get too excited when they are praising you, nor do you get too down when they are trashing you. You just go on and do your job.”
         From 2001-03 he served as vice president of the Alabama High School Athletic Directors and Coaches Association He was president in 2004.

          He was inducted into the Colbert County Sports Hall of Fame in 2012.
MONDAY: Randy Ragsdale – Much more to him than wins and losses.

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