Berry Takes Over at Fork Union

By: Nate Sulham Email
By: Nate Sulham Email

For over 40 years, Fletcher Arritt was the face of the post grad basketball team at Fork Union Military Academy, and some would say the face of the Academy itself.

Arritt, however, would have to step away from his coaching duties after being diagnosed with lymphoma in December 2011.

He didn't have to look far for his successor.

His assistant the previous two years, and son-in-law, Brooks Berry, took over the reigns at the head of the Blue Devils bench.

Now Berry is using advice given to him by Arritt as his guidance.

"Gosh what have I not learned from him to be honest with you. He's a legend. He set this whole program up. So the foundation is still the same. He laid the groundwork so it's very easy for a guy like me to step in," Berry said Wednesday afternoon before practice.

Berry played collegiately at West Virginia and spent a couple season's by Arritt's side on the bench. But now Berry is carving his own path as head coach and finding things a bit different.

"Being the head coach is so much different than being an assistant. More decisions, everything's riding on your shoulders as far as how you manage the team and what deicisons you make and how you delegate. So nothing surprising but it's been fun."

Berry is also quick to point out that Arritt will be Fork Union "however long he wants to be" and will always have a place in the program.

"When I took over I wanted him to still be around as much as he possibly wanted to be. Because its only going to help us."

Berry points out a few differences between he and his father-in-law (Berry is "a bit more strict" and likes to "slow the game down") but one thing both men have in common is the respect of their players.

Arritt sent seven former Blue Devils to the NBA and Berry's current squad hopes to follow.

"(Berry) just wants you to play smart most of the time. Pick the right plays, make the right plays, play hard every time," guard Trey Brown said.

"Yeah 100 percent at all times, in practice and games and just play your hardest," center Emerson Burk added.

Berry doesn't entertain any notion he'll be around Fork Union as long as Arritt has been. Instead, he's just trying to build on what Arritt has left behind.

"Anytime you replace someone that's had that much impact on a school, on a program, it's not easy," Berry said. "You still hear people say 'Coach Arritt did it this way.' But you just have to kind of roll with it and be yourself and do what you think is right and really put the kids first."

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