“I am very fortunate and very honored to be a part of this town, this community and especially this high school,” Dampeer said. “I work for wonderful people that I trust, people that support me in my daily life, on every Friday nights, throughout the school day and the week; just allow me to do what I love to do, allow us to coach, allow us to mentor the kids. It is not like that everywhere. We have a special place here.”
Dampeer grew up around football. His father, Charlie Dampeer is a very successful coach in Mississippi. Dampeer believes that he has been getting groomed to be a head coach since he was nine years old.
“I came from a football family,” Dampeer said. “I really don’t know anything else. I’ve been a coach since I was in third grade. I have been kicked out the huddle. It is just something that I loved and it clicked. I’ve always told people I may not know everything in the world, but I sure do know how to act as a head coach. I’ve seen my dad years over years. You learn to act that way. You learn to be reserved at times, but you understand there are times where you have to say no and that is OK.”
Dampeer played quarterback on the collegiate level at Northeast Community College in Booneville, Miss. He also played and began his coaching career at the University of North Alabama.
“I went on to be a student coach at North Alabama under Mark Hudspeth,” Dampeer said. “They lost some depth at quarterback and I ended up playing my senior year towards the end of the year. After that I was a GA (Graduate Assistant). When I finished I had the opportunity to take the offensive coordinator job at Independence Community College in Independence, Kansas. At 25, myself and three other guys my age went out there to run the offense. It was fun and it was a learning experience. We didn’t have anything holding us back, so we took off. In the mean while, I start dating my to-be wife. I got the opportunity in the late summer of 2009 to take an opening at Spain Park High School as offensive coordinator. I knew a lot about Spain Park and the good things that were there. I jumped on that to be closer to my soon-to-be wife. I knew I was going to play in a great region and Alabama football is good football. I was there for two years and when coach (David) Shores came to Pell City, I came with him as offensive coordinator for the past two years leading up to this year.”
The 29-year-old thanks former Pell City head coach David Shores for letting him run the offense and develop into a better coach. In his two seasons as Pell City offensive coordinator, the Panthers have a 13-9 record.
“Coach Shores always allowed me to run the offense and allowed me to coach,” Dampeer said. “I am thankful for that. That is part of what made me into who I am today. Being able to grow as a coach every year and always challenging yourself I think that helps us grow. That kind of led to today.”
Success is viewed a little different by the Panthers head coach. Yes, winning games and making the playoffs are important, but he relates success to more than just winning.
“I told someone the other day that success to me is that third and fourth grade boy wanting to be like that high school football player,” Dampeer said. “Or the sixth or seventh grader that wants to be a coach just like whoever it is one day. That is success. Treating people right, doing the right thing day in and day out, molding young men and at the same time coaching them hard every play, every rep. Coaching effort, we are always going to be a team that is going to play with great effort. We are going to be disciplined and we are going to be known as a well-coached team. That’s something that I hope for and am going to expect and demand. We are going to be very physical. It is a game of angle, shoulder pads, hats, helmet and hands. You got to be physical. There is no way around it. That is what we are going to pride ourselves on. I expect us to be in every ball game and have a chance to win every ball game. That’s what we have done. We have built a foundation the past two years and we look to keep building towards that. The kids already know the systems, so that is a plus and we are just going to keep building on that every day.”
Dampeer said he appreciates the support that the community has shown him since being named the head coach, but knows the honeymoon will end.
“I laughed. The first time it is third and two and we don’t convert they will start saying bad things quick,” Dampeer said. “I am very appreciative of all the nice things people have said and the support people have given us. I think success last year will only help the crowds. We are going to put a product on the field that Pell City is going to be proud of no matter the outcome. I think people are going to want to be a part of what we are doing. It is a people business. It is how you treat kids, how you treat people that you work with, it is your relationship with the administration, it is your relationship with the community. We are here. We are Pell City. This is where we live, this is where we want to be and I think people notice that. I think they will want to come out and support us in every way possible. I know the kids deserve their support more than I ever do. They need it, they are the ones putting in the hard work.”
Pell City starts spring practice on Monday.