HENDERSONVILLE – Longtime Hendersonville High School football coach Bruce Hatfield told his team on Monday he is stepping down as head coach, effective immediately. Coach Hatfield is the longest tenured coach in Hendersonville football history.
With 153 career wins Hatfield is the winningest coach in school history.
Hatfield led the school to its only state championship game appearances in 1998, 2001, 2010, and 2013.
Hatfield wrapped his 20th season as a Commando head coach Friday night with a 6-5 record and a berth in the TSSAA playoffs where the Commandos fell victim to Blackman High School.
“Coach Bruce Hatfield has been the definition of Commando Pride here at Hendersonville High School,” said Hendersonville High School Principal Bob Cotter. “He sets an example for everyone with his tireless work ethic and dedication to all things HHS. Coach Hatfield’s legacy will always go beyond the “X’s and O’s” of football. He has taught life lessons that have allowed countless student athletes to go on to be productive men, employees and fathers in their respective communities. Coach Hatfield has set a standard of excellence at HHS that will be hard to replace. I look forward to having Bruce remain on as a teacher so that he can continue to influence lives in so many positive ways.”
In 1993, coach Hatfield left Lawrence County High School for the city by the lake to become an assistant on coach Bill Derrick’s staff. He took over as head coach in the winter of 1998.
Hatfield is a 1982 graduate of Memphis Kirby High School and he received a football scholarship from the Golden Eagles of Tennessee Tech University where he excelled as a linebacker. Following his four-year college career, Hatfield had coffee with New York Jets in 1988 as he was invited to their training camp.
Former long-time Hendersonville High principal Paul Decker hired Hatfield as a teacher and assistant and reflected on the coach.
“Coach Hatfield is one of those men who had such an influence on every person he came in contact with,” Decker said. “He knows how to impact people’s lives in a positive way, he was a very vital part of Hendersonville High School for many years. I am proud to say that I hired him as a teacher and coach in the early days, and promoted him to head coach. I look back on that and am very proud to have the opportunity to give him an opportunity to impact the lives he impacted.”
Decker said he has mixed emotions regarding coach Hatfield’s decision.
“He is a special man and he has had a lot of influence on my family,” Decker reflected. “I have three sons, one played and the other two were around him too. He is a major part of Hendersonville but sometimes you got to do what is right for you and your family. Sometimes you get to a point where you realize it’s best you move on. I was there too. You get to a point where you have to make tough decisions about the future and what you want.”
Longtime Station Camp coach Shaun Hollinsworth has been around coach Hatfield and Sumner County since the late 90’s. Hollinsworth worked under Hatfield at Hendersonville High School from 1999-2001, until taking the job at Station Camp when the school opened in 2002.
"I have so much respect for him, the school, and his staff," Hollinsworth said. "He taught me about work ethic, and I learned how the function of the whole thing is supposed to work, more than just football. It is so much more than X's and O's on a chalkboard. It's about a program that is all for one and one for all, and I think that is what separates the good programs from the great ones. I believe he had a great program. He is a great man as well. He loves the kids, is a hard worker, and a good coach on top of all that. What else could you want. Coach Hat did things the right way."
Coach Hatfield has yet to be reached for comment at this time. Please follow the Hendersonville Standard Facebook page and read this week’s Hendersonville Standard for further information.