By Will Westmoreland
Christ Cutcliffe is the head football coach at Oxford High School and the Director or Student Development for the Oxford School District
Q: What are your other roles with the Oxford School District besides head football coach at Oxford High?
A: This year I’m taking over as Director of Student Development, which will encompass a couple different areas. One will be our ‘Redefining Ready’ initiative, which is an effort to ensure that our students are college, career, and life-ready when they graduate. The idea is that the Oxford School District should take a student from ‘Pre-K to professional’, to ensure success as an adult. There are a lot of data points involved with that, not just walking across the stage at graduation, which doesn’t, in and of itself, mean a student is ready. It’s a more holistic approach to success we’re aiming for. I’ll also oversee our Scholastic Institute, which is a program for juniors and seniors that allows them to graduate with a high school diploma along with an Associate’s Degree from Northwest. Sophomores can apply each year at no cost to them. And I’m also head of the school’s intramural program.
Q: When did you realize you wanted to be a football coach, and who are your biggest influences?
A: I’ve always wanted to be a football coach, for as long as I can remember. Most kids want to be professional athletes growing up, but I wanted to coach. My mom was a first grade teacher, my dad a football coach, so seeing the impact they had on young people is what made the biggest impact on me. I always tell this story: I was in fourth or fifth grade, still living in Knoxville at the time. I was at the mall with my mom. A teenage boy ran up to her and hugged her. She had taught him in first grade, however many years before and he still remembered her. That made an impression on me. I wanted to make a mark like that on young people. Also (former OHS football) Coach Johnny Hill. He coached me in high school and I worked under him for five years beginning in 2011, and he taught me a lot about coaching at the high school level.
Q: Why have you chosen to stay in Oxford?
A: Well, we love this community. I moved here in the sixth grade, and it was a great place to grow up. My wife, Molly, is also from here. The school system is incredible, the community is incredible. We love the people here, and we think it’s a great place to raise our kids.
Q: Do you plan on remaining a high school coach or do you see yourself moving on to the college level at some point?
Q: No. My goal is to be right here where I am. I love working with young people. I think you lose some of that, especially now, when you move to the higher levels of football. I really enjoy that aspect, of teaching and coaching at a high school. I love that we don’t cut players based on ability, so anybody can be a part of the team if they’re willing to do the work required to become a part of the team. It’s really rewarding to see guys that maybe don’t get a lot of public recognition, maybe don’t get much playing time, but who, internally, within the team have so much respect, who you see grow day-to-day. I think you lose that today at higher levels, and that’s the most rewarding part for me.
Q: What’s your perfect day in Oxford look like?
A: Spending time with my family. Typically that’s a lot of hustle and bustle, running the kids around everywhere, but definitely spending time with Molly and our children. I love coming to work, I love what I do. There’s not a day I don’t wake up and look forward to what I have and what I do, my family and job. I hope to be here and stay here, as long as they’ll let me continue.