YUKON — Thirty-one years after embarking on one career at Picher-Cardin High School, David Fisher is in the midst of another.
Fisher, who compiled a 21-13 record in three seasons as the Gorillas’ head coach, now is Oklahoma business development manager for Austin, Texas-based Hellas Sports Construction.
“It’s a fancy term for salesman,” Fisher quipped.
Fisher sells artificial turf, polyurethane tracks and tennis courts for Hellas.
“It’s been a neat change of pace after 31 years of being in education,” Fisher said from Carthage, Missouri, after Friday’s final session of the Tri-State Air football camp he conducts with former NEO offensive coordinator Doug Buckmaster.
“It’s kinda neat to not be at a soccer game until 10 o’clock on a Tuesday night or a basketball game until 10 o’clock on Friday or a baseball game until 10 o‘clock on a Monday,” he said. “You set your own hours.”
The state of education in Oklahoma made Fisher’s decision to join Hellas easy.
“It (being in education in Oklahoma) is the worst place to be,” he said. “That kinda helped me make my decision there toward the end. It was getting so tough to do more with less. When I got to that 31 years and could retire with full benefits, it just wasn’t that hard to do. I loved it, but it just wasn’t that hard to do.”
Fisher spent the first seven years of his coaching career at Picher-Cardin, the final three as head coach.
“I was a snot-nosed kid who didn’t know up from down … I just thought I did,” Fisher said. “That was a great start for me. I learned so much at Picher, even when I was an assistant during those tough times and we lost 27 games in a row after winning the state championship.”
The Gorillas went 15-0 while winning the Class A state title in 1984. They were 7-4 a year later, losing 7-0 in the first round to Chouteau. That was Fisher’s first season back at his alma mater.
Picher-Cardin started the 1986 season 2-1, then finished the season with seven straight losses.
It wouldn’t win again until the 1989 opener, when the Gorillas beat Commerce 15-12 in Fisher’s first game as head coach.
They finished 4-6 that season then won their first 12 games in 1990 before falling 13-7 to Crescent in the third round of the playoffs.
The Gorillas were 5-6 in Fisher’s final season, losing again to Crescent, this time in the first round.
While at PCHS under Fisher, the Gorillas were running the spread before it became “the” offense in high school and college football.
“It was a lot of fun,” Fisher said. “There were a lot of great games. Playing that Crescent game in the quarterfinals where we were 12-0 and they were 12-0. That was one of those great, great games.
“Trying to get to 13-0 at Picher from where it came from was a pretty big deal.”
Fisher left in 1992 for Tulsa Metro Christian where he spent two seasons before two at Pauls Valley and five at Owasso.
He then moved to Texas to South Grand Prairie High School, where he was 37-18 from 2004 to 2008.
Fisher’s final eight years in education were at Yukon as athletic director.
“I loved a lot of the games at Owasso because we got to play Jenks, Union and Broken Arrow,” Fisher said. “We weren’t the ‘big four’ back then. It was the ‘big three’ and we were trying to make Owasso part of the ‘big four.’ Now they are, but wasn’t back then.”
South Grand Prairie played at Texas Stadium — former home of the Dallas Cowboys — in the post-season four times during Fisher’s tenure there.
“We beat Denton Ryan (48-35 in 2005) in the first game they ever lost in Texas Stadium in front of about 40,000 in overtime. That was kind of a neat deal.”
The Warriors beat Plano North before 30,000-plus at Texas Stadium in another memorable game.
Fisher oversaw the construction of a $20 million football stadium, $10 million basketball arena and a $6 million baseball, softball and tennis complex during his tenure at Yukon.
“We have probably the finest collection of all of those facilities together on one campus in the state of Oklahoma,” he said. “That will be my legacy athletically. To get to build all that, design it and oversee the construction, was really a lot of fun. That will be something I can look back 20 years from now and it will still be there.”
Fisher still misses coaching — a little.
“I miss it more on Friday night when I am standing somewhere at 7:30 at kickoff,” he said. “I don’t necessarily miss the preparation, the hours during the week and weekends and all that. You know how it is: you still miss the game itself, the strategy, calling plays and that stuff.”
Conducting the Tri-State Air camps helps keep Fisher connected with the game.
The playoff games at Texas Stadium were how Fisher got connected with Hellas.
“That’s the turf we played on,” Fisher said. “Then we end up building two tracks and some other things there. I brought them to Yukon and had them do the turf and the track there. I got to know the owner and helped him from afar there with Oklahoma business.
“He finally kinda said ‘why don’t you go to work for us?’
Northeastern State University, Southwestern Oklahoma State University, Union, Broken Arrow, Enid, Noble, Yukon, Midwest City, Del City, Carl Albert and Tulsa Holland Hall all play on fields installed by Hellas.
Oklahoma Christian School — Blake Griffin’s alma mater — had a track installed and just last week, Fisher sold the University of Central Oklahoma on an $800,000 baseball project.
Plus the turf at the Cowboys’ new stadium — AT&T Stadium — features Hellas turf.
“We do work in all 50 states with more than 800 employees,” Fisher said. “We’re approaching being a $200 million a year company.”
Jim Ellis is sports editor of the Miami News-Record. He can be reached by phone at 918-542-5508, ext. 3052, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mnrsportsguy