A high school coach’s job is to help teach an athlete skills and strategy for their sport.
But most will also say it’s their job to help prepare their athletes for life after graduation.
Bracken County senior Tanner Fisher has used sports to help him prepare for life after high school, and was named the Kentucky High School Athletic Directors Association’s 2018 Male Athlete of the Year during the KHSADA awards banquet in Louisville on Thursday.
“The qualities that sports have instilled in me are some that most strive to learn for a very long time. Luckily, I am fortunate enough to graduate high school with them,” Fisher wrote in the essay portion of the application for the award. “Something that is truly priceless, these core values will carry me to a life of success because I invested myself enough to learn the discipline, responsibility, and leadership it takes to be a high school athlete. Sports have impacted my life in countless ways, but these are the ways I am going to remember.”
The purpose of the award, according to the application form, is to promote, facilitate and increase the knowledge and understanding of the vital role of interscholastic athletics in the educational system. The award is from the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association and the KHSADA, and is given to one male and female senior from Kentucky and includes a $500 scholarship.
In his time at Bracken County, Fisher has exemplified what it means to be a student-athlete.
He’s a 12-time varsity letter winner in baseball, basketball, football and golf, and made a priority of putting the team ahead of his own accolades.
In football, Fisher was a receiver and defensive back. He was a captain of the team for three years, helping the team to its first-ever home playoff game as a junior and its first-ever playoff win as a senior. He only caught seven passes for 94 yards and one touchdown this fall, but helped a run-heavy offense that went for 3,192 yards in 12 games.
“I think with a team, everybody needs that kind of teammate. Personally, I enjoy it. I’ve never been the best or broken records, but I do enjoy doing my part and doing what I do,” Fisher said in a phone interview on Sunday. “I’m not always going to carry the football or shoot, but I do what I can.”
While he might not stand out on the stat sheet, his younger brother, Tad, has the last few seasons. Of the 3,192 rushing yards the Polar Bears had in the fall, 1,606 came from the junior. He also had 19 touchdowns.
“He’s [Tanner] never had a selfish bone in his body,” said Daniel Fisher, Bracken County’s athletic director and the father of the two. “When his brother excels, he’s the first one to congratulate him. He usually has a bigger smile than Tad.”
He was a captain on the basketball team this year and played a part in Bracken’s County’s back-to-back trips to the 10th Region Tournament the last two years. As a junior, he averaged 6.5 points per game and as a senior he bumped that number up to 8.3 points per game.
The senior says the most memorable moment of his athletic career came on the basketball court on February 7, 2017, during a game against Montgomery County.
And the reason why had nothing to do with him.
With 5:57 to go in the fourth quarter, his teammate, Austin Crawford, drilled a 3-pointer to reach the 3,000 point mark in his career.
“I know one really stuck with me because doesn’t happen often, was when I was on the floor when Austin scored 3,000 points,” said Fisher. “He’s one of my closest friends and it meant a lot.”
But between all the sports, baseball is 100 percent his favorite.
He’s served as a captain for four years and through Bracken County’s first nine games, he had a team-best .360 batting average, according to statistics submitted to MaxPreps.com. He drove in four runs and scored six of his own during that stretch, and added two hits on Friday in the Polar Bears’ 10th game against Lewis County.
His team-before-self style showed again the night before, too.
Instead of going to Louisville to receive the Athlete of the Year award, he stayed in Brooksville for the Polar Bears’ game against Villa Madonna. He singled twice and came up with two assists in two chances at shortstop, while his father received the award for him.
“It was a tough decision because I knew the award was a big deal, but I knew the team was going to need me before my individual accomplishment,” said Fisher. “I always try to put the team before myself.”
And athletics are only part of his busy schedule. He’s also the president of the Class of 2018 at Bracken County. He’s a member of the Gifted and Talented Club, Future Business Leaders of America, Science Club, Student Council and Future Farmers of America.
He’s been on the honor roll for four years and was a member of the 2017 Governor’s Scholar Program. He was a four-time recipient of the Bracken County High School Pride Coin, getting it once for tutoring another student and three times for getting a minimum of a benchmark score in each area of the ACT. He also volunteers for different events within Bracken County’s athletic department, as well as working two jobs.
“As a father and an athletic director, I’m proud of him as a student-athlete and what he’s accomplished. Tanner is a very self-motivated young man who did this on his own,” said Daniel Fisher. “Tanner is an example of a student who took advantage of his high school time playing as many sports as he could and is an example of a model student-athlete able to balance academics with athletics.”
The senior plans on continuing his education at Morehead State University in the fall with a major in pre-pharmacy.
“Here in recent years I found out what my niche going be in life. I’ve been thinking about my career and making myself a successful student,” said Fisher. “That’s been my focus the last couple years.”
One male and one female in each of the eight NIAAA sections will each receive a $1,500 scholarship, with the announcement of the winners coming in June. The NIAAA Board will select a male and female national winner in July, and they will receive a $2,000 scholarship and a crystal recognizing them as a national winner at the National Conference for Athletic Administrators in December in San Antonio, Texas.