Hanson takes reins of Trinity football program as head coach

By CHRIS GOLTERMANN cgoltermann@newnan.com Finding the perfect hire among coaches isn't always easy, regardless the level of playing field. It requires putting the right peg -- namely a candidate with admired qualities -- into the proper hole, or position of opportunity. In this case of Trinity Christian School and Chris Hanson, that hole was in the shape of a football. And both parties are now hoping that the recent hiring of its program's next head coach is a perfect fit.
Continuing to transition from a 10-year veteran NFL punter to coaching, the 34-year-old Newnan resident and East Coweta High alumnus recently accepted his first head coaching position, while agreeing to carry the torch for a Lions program preparing for changes of their own. "I really believe throughout my NFL career, God was preparing me to be a coach," Hanson said. "Because I had been around so many different coaches. I've seen how they've affected men's lives. It's all about creating relationships." Trinity Christian's championship 8-man football program preparing for the shift to the 11-man game this fall in the Independent Christian Schools of Georgia and Alabama. A following step will see the Sharpsburg private school join the Georgia Independent Schools Association in football for the 2012-13 school year as a potential Class AAA program. "I don't think we could have found a better coach or person for the position," said Trinity Christian athletic director Anthony Lamb. "Chris is just the kind of coach, and the type of Christian role model that we want to surround our students with." Hanson, who spent last season on former high school coach Danny Cronic's staff at The Heritage School, hopes to continue building a program that went a perfect 13-0 in just its third year of existence under head coach and Trinity High School Principal Matt Schock. "That's what excites me about Trinity in continuing to lay down a foundation," Hanson said. "With anything, you have to have a foundation, and here we're going to put up the pillars starting with 11-man next year. It's an exciting time here and we've got a lot of expectations, but we've also got a long way to go." Juggling both administrative and coaching duties the past two school years at Trinity Christian, Schock had been hoping to find the right football successor, but not without sacrificing the integrity of the program. "It's something my wife and have talked about a lot, just the hours involved," said Schock of coaching. "But I was willing to make sure we could find the right candidate to do it. Anthony and I began talking about it in October or so, and I told him that I was ready to give it another year." Last fall, the Lions capped off a championship season by beating Faith Academy 55-22 for the ICSGA 8-man title. Over 13 games, the team scored nearly 700 points and allowed less than 13 points per game. On many occasions, Schock's staff of six assistants began practices without him due to afterschool priorities. "With us looking to become a triple-A GISA school, there's just that much more involved on a day-to-day basis with offseason programs and strength training," Schock said. "I didn't know a whole lot about Chris prior to this year, but just by meeting him, you can see he's a go-getter. And our football philosophies are really a lot in common with each other." Trinity Christian's enrollment and expected growth most likely will place it in the GISA's largest classification of schools in AAA. The hiring also comes at a time when the school is actively pursing the expansion of its sports facilities in the near future. The school currently practices on the old Crossroads Church softball fields and plays its home football games at East Coweta Middle School. "We want to play at the highest level that is reasonable for us to play at. That may grow and change in the future," said Lamb. "We're not exactly where we want to be yet, but we're headed in that direction." Hanson, a Pro-Bowler with the Jacksonville Jaguars before reaching Super Bowl XLII with the New England Patriots, coordinating both the Hawks special teams and weight-training program in addition to position-coaching duties last year. "Heritage was an amazing experience. It helped me get through some things after retiring from football and helped me transition into things a lot smoother," Hanson said. "I can't say enough good things about Heritage and the way they treated me in a time of uncertainty in my life." A year ago Hanson and wife Kasey, who continued to live in Coweta County with their three children, found themselves with choices to make, and ultimately pray about. His two-year contract with New England ended with last year's playoff loss to the Baltimore Ravens, with the Patriots opting not to re-sign him. Around the same time, Cronic had decided to return to coaching from a three-year hiatus, this time at The Heritage School. "I had a feeling deep down that the NFL, I was done with it," said Hanson. "We just prayed and asked God if there was an opportunity to allow us to step into it. When I got word about coach, I called him and said 'Coach I'd love to help you any way that I can.' And he brought me in with open arms." Cronic initially recruited Hanson as a high school athlete to try out for football from the soccer field as a punter and kicker midway through his years at East Coweta. In addition to earning a scholarship offer from Marshall University, Hanson was also an outstanding receiver and basketball player. "Coach Cronic, to me, is one of the best coaches in high school football," he said. "To be able to be under him and learn, and to see how he treats the boys, definitely taught me a lot. He helped me to grow through teaching me what it takes to be a head coach."

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