Bishop hopes to build on tradition at Green Forest

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Full circle. That is the path newly named Green Forest football coach Bobby Bishop has taken. Bishop, a 1978 graduate of Green Forest High School, started out with hopes of walking on to play football at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, but decided he would rather stick to the books.

After a year at UCA, he transferred to College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Mo., and graduated with a teaching degree, but when he realized he only needed a few more classes to become a coach, Bishop went to the University of Arkansas, where he got the final credits he needed to obtain his coaching license.

After stops at Eureka Springs, Berryville (twice), East Newton County High School in Granby, Mo., and Huntsville, he finally came back to Green Forest.

"It is a dream come true because I hadn't really ever thought about coming back," Bishop said. "It is very humbling and it has been great personally for me, getting to take on this challenge. I have had a permanent smile on my face for the last month."

Green Forest Superintendent Matt Summers is glad to see that smile on Bishop's face.

"We needed someone who could come in and bring some energy to this program, and relate to the kids," Summers said. "I feel like with Bobby we have that."

Bishop's father, Carroll County Sheriff Orval Bishop, was killed in the line of duty while responding to a domestic disturbance in 1969, when Bobby Bishop was 9 years old. Bobby Bishop said he has had many people make an impact on his life.

"My civics teacher, who was also my brother-in-law, Terry Fancher, was a great help to me," Bishop said. "I had a lot of substitute dads, but he was one of them, along with some others who helped bring me along."

On a professional level, Bishop has had the good fortune to coach with the likes of Tommy Tice, Doug Scheel and Ronnie Clark.

"These are some of the all-time greats in Arkansas high school football," Bishop said. "I have been blessed to be on their staffs, become friends with them and they have helped me out immensely."

One thing he has learned from these coaches is the importance of getting a large number of players on the team. When Bishop initially met with the senior high team on June 8, he found out that could be a problem.

"We met up here and talked about football and Green Forest," Bishop said. "I felt like it was real productive. We had I think, 23 players there, and it was funny because I asked 'em how many they thought we would have and one of them said 25, the other 27 or 26, but I told them my goal is to finish the season with 35 guys who have stuck with us."

Bishop said 30 players who have showed up for summer workouts. He said once school starts he plans on looking for more.

"I will be roaming the halls of Green Forest High School," Bishop said. "That is the neat thing about a coaching change. It is a clean slate. Anybody who left can come back and anyone who hasn't ever tried it can come see what it is like."

Bishop said the Green Forest school district is nearly 50 percent Hispanic. At the team meeting there was only one Hispanic player in attendance.

"We have got some great athletes here who aren't playing football," Bishop said. "We had a soccer team who won a state title last year and a cross country team that won a championship this year. The athletes are there and it is my experience from in the past of coaching Hispanic kids that they like football and I want to see those kids get involved. It is my desire to have a 40-man roster here at Green Forest."

The Tigers will open practice July 6.

"That first practice will be real basic," Bishop said. "I want to see my guys throw, kick, run, block, just see what I'm working with. Then we will have team camp at Berryville the week after that and another in Harrison."

Bishop has also been named the athletic director at Green Forest. He said he doesn't feel any extra pressure having never been an athletic director before, but does feel there will be a learning curve to the job.

"I'm sure it will be a little overwhelming here in the beginning," Bishop said. "But I am also excited about being involved with every program that we offer athletically. Friday nights in the fall are going to be fun, but basketball games and all of those track meets we host will be great, too."

Former Green Forest football coach and athletic director Jay Martin knows what Bishop will be going through.

"There is definitely a learning curve to it," Martin said. "And it keeps you busy, but you get to know a lot of the kids that way."

Bishop said he wants the community to enjoy Green Forest athletics.

"We plan on making Friday nights in Green Forest an event and not just a game," Bishop said.

Bishop said he has always been a Green Forest fan at heart, and he credits coaches such as Bill Gotto and Martin for keeping the program successful throughout the years.

"Green Forest football is in a good place right now," Bishop said. "We just need to build off the success of my predecessors and I look forward to doing that."

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