|KCU’s Corey Fipps|
Corey Fipps grins and jokes that he grew up in California’s version of Carter County, wearing “the world’s largest FFA jacket.”
In fact, his hometown had 7,000 fewer people than you’ll find around here. The youngest of five Fipps children, football was his ticket to become the first in the family to attend college.
“I grew up in a blue collar family – Okies who went to California. The opportunity to go to college and play football … it was foreign to my family,” he said, adding he enjoyed his family’s full support as he pursued an education and athletics at a small, Christian college.
“I went from a rice field in northern California to a rice field in Arkansas,” he said with a chuckle. He met his wife, Jennifer (who is a practicing chiropractor in Grayson), while studying at Harding University. “We attended a small, group Bible study and we’ve been together since,” he said, noting they dated for three years before getting married.
Fipps coached high school football in Texas, and says he thought he had found his calling until news of the death of a college friend in Afghanistan took him back to Harding for a couple of years before accepting the offensive coordinator position at Faulkner University. “That is where I was first introduced to KCU,” he said, recalling the two schools had a common foundation in the Restoration Church, and their teams played for the Stone-Campbell Cup.
The Fipps enjoyed “what we call our Lewis and Clark adventure” while he worked in Montana, before moving to a job at Belhaven University where he joined the team of legendary Coach Hal Mumme – “the father of throwing the football. The father of the air raid.” Coaching also took him to Missouri Southern State, where he worked with Denver Johnson.
Kentucky, however, had always called to him. Fipps smiles as he explains his old college room mate, Adam Allen, was a Henry Clay graduate with a fondness for belting out Kentucky’s state song. “I heard My Old Kentucky Home sung off key for many years,” he said, smiling.
In spite of that, Fipps said he did not intend to take a job at KCU in Grayson when he reported to Carter County for an interview at the Christian school. “I had three small daughters. I just wanted to get away and get a nap,” he joked. Once he met the school’s leaders and got a look at the campus and existing programs, Fipps said “I fell in love. I would be the sixth coach in 10 years.”
“What I was really worried about was how I was going to tell my wife we were moving to Eastern Kentucky.” He did not have to worry, as “She loved it,” he said, adding Carter County put his wife closer to her family in South Carolina.
“I attended a similar college with high Christian standards and Chapel, and it made me what I am. I feel I have been given a chance to do for someone else what my coach, Randy Tribble (at Harding), did for me.”
Corey and Jennifer Fipps’ daughters are now 10, 5 and 2 years old and Carter County has been an excellent fit for the entire family, he said, adding they also enjoy and appreciate their role as members of Olive Hill Church of Christ.
When not at work, Fipps said he enjoys family time including community service projects as well as time playing in the pool and yard. “Football is my hobby and day to day operations of it is my job. I love it! This has been a dream job for me and at this point I can’t see myself doing anything else.”