Grooming the Mountaineers
While many know the Appalachian State Mountaineers as 12-year
Southern Conference champions and winners of three Football Championship Subdivision Championships,
there is a softer and more sophisticated side to these warriors of Saturday.
On any given game day, thousands of fans witness the Mountaineers manhandle Terriers, Catamounts and a few pesky Phoenix, but few know these players as poised and graceful gentlemen.
For past the four years, rising senior members of each illustrious class have participated in formal etiquette training at The 1861 Farmhouse Restaurant and Winery in Valle Crucis.
During one late summer evening, the veteran leaders of the Black and Gold learn the dos and don’ts of formal meetings, how to address correspondences, job interviews, dinner conversation and, of course, dating.
“This is a testament to the kind of football program that Appalachian State runs,” said 1861 Farmhouse co-owner Alison Garrett. “My husband and I have always been supportive of the football program. Over the years, we got to know a number of the coaches, including Coach (Jerry) Moore. One day, I received a call from Coach Moore and the associate athletic director, Jay Sutton, who had been talking about how to give their players tools to be successful in life.”
Through their conversations, Moore and Garrett realized what was missing in the coaching staff’s teachings to their players was etiquette.
“I was very interested in it,” Garrett said. “I thought it was a wonderful thing, because etiquette is something I really enjoy doing and is really important in my life.”
In the crash course of proper demeanor, players are taught how to properly shake hands while maintaining eye contact, how to butter their rolls, eat soup and how to respond to RSVPs in a timely manner.
“We talked about acceptable social behavior and dating etiquette,” Garrett said. “Even though a lot has changed in the dating world, there are some things that will never change. That’s the point in the evening that generates a lot of questions. We all have a lot of fun with that.”
While the recently departed Moore helped to start the program, Garrett said it is “very gratifying” to see newly promoted coach Scott Satterfield continue the relationship.
“We have photographs of past etiquette camps lining the hallway (at the restaurant), and not a day goes by that a customer doesn’t seek us out to say how impressed they are,” Garrett said. “I give all the credit back to ASU and the great football program they have. This is truly a testament to the coaches and the support staff that care so much about the players, not only today, but as the husbands and fathers they will become.”
According to Sutton, the respect the program has for The 1861 Farmhouse is mutual. He also firmly believes the etiquette camp fills a needed service for the soon-to-graduate players.
“Alison and Steve Garrett, who have hosted us there, are just tremendous people and wonderful role models,” Sutton said. “We’ve built a special relationship with them through the years. Regarding our players, everyone associated with our football program from Coach Satterfield on down respects our players and wants to set them up for success, whether it’s on the field, in the classroom or in the community.”
Of this year’s 11 senior players, three are in graduate school, and two are enrolled in the university’s MBA program. Another player is in the higher education graduate program, Sutton said.
Five players will graduate this December. Three other business majors are also due to graduate and will do so in less than four years.
Tony Washington, an All-Southern Conference wide receiver, received numerous academic accolades this past spring, Sutton said.
“Hats off to our academic staff and these players,” he said. “They will have a championship experience here in college and hopefully set them up for success.”
For more information on ASU football and The 1861 Farmhouse, visit http://www.appstatesports.com and http://www.1861farmhouse.com, respectively.