Bryon Hamilton, Shasta College Head Football Coach
● By Enjoy Magazine
Story by Aaron Williams
Photos by Mike Daly
BRYON HAMILTON IS calm, mild-mannered … even jovial. Until kickoff.
Then, the new Shasta College head football coach ratchets up the intensity. His razor-stubbled jaw clenches a little tighter, the booming voice echoes above the din and the icy stare cuts through the sunglasses.
Football coaches are a fierce lot to begin with, but Hamilton goes full-on “Spinal Tap” and turns up the passion to 11.
“During practice, I’m trying to kick your tail (to make you better),” he says. “In games, I’m off the chart as far as adrenaline and intensity.”
A standout linebacker at Enterprise High School in the 1980s, Hamilton played tight end at Long Beach State under legendary coach George Allen and knew he
wanted to stay involved in the game after his playing days
“The closest thing to playing was to become a coach,” he says. “I was originally going to be a graduate assistant at Long Beach and was offered a job at Chico State. But a buddy said Foothill High School was opening and the coach was looking for coaches.
“I wasn’t interested, but had lunch and, at 23 years old, they offered me the head junior varsity job.”
And like many North State natives, Hamilton planned to stay in his hometown “only a few years” before moving on to bigger and better things.
A science teacher at the new Foothill campus, Hamilton coached for the Cougars for six years before Shasta College head coach Craig Thompson came calling for the first time.
“He offered me the job at offensive coordinator and took a shot on me,” Hamilton says, noting his first quarterback with the Knights was Canadian Football League legend Ricky Ray. Hamilton held that role until 2003, when he returned to Foothill as head coach and spent a decade with the Cougars before Thompson came calling again.
Thompson says hiring Hamilton the first time was based on his offensive philosophy and scheme. The second hiring in 2013 was for this moment, the passing of the torch.
“After developing his foundation and building a program at Foothill, he really stepped in and took us to a new level of success,” says Thompson, who will oversee the defense. “He’s the perfect guy to be the head coach of the future at Shasta College.”
And that foundation was built on a 72-33 overall record with one Northern Section championship and four section final appearances.
“When I took the Foothill job I thought I’d have immediate success, and we were terrible for two years,” Hamilton says. “I learned a lesson in those years – don’t focus on the big picture, but on the little things.”
Those little things, he says, are getting better each day in practice, winning in the weight room and classroom.
“In January, our team GPA was 2.41 and I looked at the guys and said, ‘We’re going to have a 3.0 team GPA,’ and they looked at me like I was crazy,” Hamilton says. “I demanded they go to study hall and day by day we worked on it and finished with a 3.1 team GPA.”
Jim Schuette, the Knights’ linebacker coach who coached with Hamilton for years at Foothill, says the success doesn’t come from the scheme or Xs and Os.
“He’s a big culture guy,” Schuette says. “It’s not about wins or losses, but getting you to be the best person you can be. He holds you accountable and builds you up for success, but at the same time isn’t afraid to hold you accountable if you’re falling short.”
Tim Naylor, a Knights’ quarterback who played at Central Valley High School and now coaches at Shasta High School, says Hamilton’s presence is dominating on the field.
“Whether it was practice or a walk-through, his standards were way up there,” Naylor says. “If you threw a pick in practice, he’d jump your butt because if you didn’t learn, you’d do it in the game.”
However, the same guy who would chew some rump over a mistake was also a champion of on-field success. “He’s always the first dude to love us up when we’d score,” Naylor says.
And melting the icy glare with a touchdown pass, Naylor says, made all the time spent watching film, in the weight room and at practice worthwhile. “He’s a guy you wanted to succeed for,” Naylor says. •