Chennis Berry waited a long time to become a head football coach before Benedict College gave him the opportunity. Berry got his chance when he was hired at Benedict College on Feb. 11, 2020 — approximately one month before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States.
He had to wait nearly a year-and-a-half to lead his team to the field, after serving as an assistant coach at seven HBCUs over more than two-and-a-half decades. The result was a 5-5 finish for BC in 2021.
We caught up with Chennis Berry at the SIAC Media Day in Atlanta to talk about where his program is as he heads into his second season on the field in Columbia. Here’s what he had to say about….
Creating a new culture at Benedict College
“Year One, we came in and tried to implement our systems — offense, defense, special teams — our belief and what we’re all about. Trying to instill our culture. I think our culture is instilled now. We’re right where we want to be. Guys are learning, they understand the expectations off the field, on the field as well. So we’re just trying every day to get closer. I think our young people are buying into our process a little bit more.”
Why Benedict College should be better
“Accountability is big. We want the young men to buy into the process of making sure every day that they hold their brothers accountable. Because ultimately — at the end of the day — they have to depend on each other. I think our leadership has drastically improved. We have a leadership concept, ten individuals per position to lead us off the field when the coaches aren’t around. At the end of the day, I want to see guys taking the next step, which is holding each other accountable.
We feel like wholeheartedly, talent-wise, personnel-wise we’re a really good football team but things have to come together. Chemistry, favor, all those have to happen to take us to the next step. I like where we are as a football program, the guys have really bought into the process.”
Seizing his opportunity
“I waited 26 years to sit in this seat. I coached at every level of HBCU and the Good Lord gave me an opportunity to be the head football coach at Benedict College. I’m grateful to be there and I’m grateful every day when I come to work I’m able to lead these great young men every day on the field as well as off the field, because I try to lead from the front.”