Lumberjacks football: Troy Hendricks adapts Ross Fortier's coaching philosophy to Bemidji High School program
MOORHEAD -- Troy Hendricks remembers former Minnesota State Moorhead football coach Ross Fortier as a man of few words. Hendricks, a former Bemidji Lumberjack, is the current activities director and head football coach at his high school alma mater and he played for Fortier at MSU Moorhead from 1983 through 1986.
"Ross was great to play for. So much of what I learned I can attribute to him as my No. 1 mentor," Hendricks said. "Ross was a father figure but he never got very personal with his players. Very seldom did he have to raise his voice as a coach or say much because everybody respected him. In fact, he didn't really acknowledge me when we would meet in the hallways until I was a junior or senior. But at the same time he was mentoring me to be a leader."
Under the tutelage of Fortier, Hendricks became that leader. During his senior year at Moorhead Hendricks was the NAIA national scoring and rushing champion and was an NAIA All-America pick. He also was Moorhead State's team MVP as a junior and senior and was the Most Valuable Player in the Northern Intercollegiate Conference as a senior.
With Hendricks in the backfield the Dragons were always challenging for the conference championship and were regular fixtures in the NAIA playoff picture.
When his competitive days were over Hendricks continued to learn from Fortier as the Dragons head coach added Hendricks to his cast of assistants.
"In 1987 I coached for the first time when Ross put me in charge of the junior varsity offensive line," Hendricks said. "I was a running back and didn't know much about how to play offensive line but he put me in that position so that I would learn."
Fortier, according to Hendricks, followed a simple rule while he was leading the Dragons to success on the football field.
"At that time our roster was like what you see at St. John's. There were many players out for football and Ross wasn't a babysitter," Hendricks said. "He had expectations and if you wanted to do what it took to fulfill those expectations, great. But if you didn't, that was great, too because there was always someone else who would get things done."
Hendricks has transferred the success he enjoyed as a football player into the coaching ranks. Each year the Lumberjacks are among the top programs in the state and Hendricks knows that Fortier has had a major role in the success of the Lumberjacks.
"Much of what we do at Bemidji today we can trace to Ross," Hendricks said. "Whatever he said, in my book, it was bible and he never had to say anything twice. His demeanor and the way he carried himself is the same way I try and carry myself. He had a no-nonsense approach and it was always about looking forward. And, as a coach, I try to do the same thing."