Krisse Story uses multiple roles to support Lanett

Published 12:13 pm Monday, April 27, 2020

The Lanett Panthers have been arguably one of the best high school athletic programs in the state of Alabama in the last five years. The Panthers have played in four basketball state championships, winning three, and won two football state championships. In the middle of all the success have been the Storys.

Clifford is the school’s athletic director and football coach. His sons Tre, Kristian and Caden have all stared on the gridiron and the court, helping the Panthers in all of their championships.

Kristian has five rings leading the way. He was a four-star recruit, was the first player from a 1A school to win Mr. Football and signed with his dream school of Alabama in December.

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Caden is a four-star prospect by several recruiting sites with offers from Auburn, Tennesee and Maryland before the start of his junior season.

Throughout all this success, Krisse Story has been on the sideline.

Krisse has always been around sports. Growing up she would play basketball with her brother Marcus Pollard, who went on to have a 14-year career in the NFL, and her cousins, all of which were boys.

“I was the only girl of the bunch,” Krisse said. “I played a lot of basketball against them, and they didn’t take it light on me. They didn’t sympathize with the fact that I was a girl.”

Playing against her family made her tougher, which led to a scholarship at the University of Auburn in Montgomery.

After graduating, she stayed around sports, but her role changed. It went from athlete to coach’s wife when she married Clifford nearly 22 years ago.

Early on in their marriage, the two were in Riverdale, Georgia, where Clifford was an assistant coach. Clifford’s schedule was hectic as he had to follow the head coach’s schedule. This continued when he left Riverdale and joined the Auburn High School coaching staff.

This left Krisse at home with their three sons.

“It was tough. I pretty much had to do everything on my own,” Krisse said.

Clifford became the head coach at Lanett in 2009, which made life easier for Krisse because he was home.

Once Tre started playing football, Krisse’s next transition was moving from just coach’s wife to player’s mom as well.

“I had to adjust to that,” Krisse said. “[Clifford] doesn’t treat our boys any differently. He’s not easier on them. He rode them pretty hard, so it was a transition for our household.”

With their sons playing, football was all the Storys would talk about. Whenever they were at home on the weekends, eating dinner or going on trips, football was being discussed.

“There was just no escape from it,” Krisse said.

After being a head coach’s wife for four years, Krisse moved from the stands to the field.

“I didn’t know how to handle things in the stands,” Krisse said. “I would kind of get into arguments and that stuff.”

Her new role on the field was Aqua Mom.

Clifford and Krisse came up with the idea by going to coaching marriage outreach programs, where wives talk about different ways they try to help their husbands on gamedays.

In her new role, she gives out water, prays with the players, gives out towels and is a calming influence on the sideline for both players and Clifford.

“We spend so much time doing football, it’s just so important that I spent time with the boys on the sideline, not just my boys, but all of the boys,” Krisse said.

When she first started as the Aqua Mom five years ago, Tre and one or two other players asked Krisse if she would pray with them before the game. Before long, almost the entire team joined the pregame prayer.

After falling to Fyffe in the semifinals in 2016, the Lanett Panthers were in the 2017 2A State Championship game in a frozen Bryant-Denny Stadium. Krisse was on the sideline as the clock hit triple zeros.

“I don’t think you’ll ever get that feeling back no matter how many you win,” Krisse said. “It was really special because I know how hard my husband worked, how he invested his time and energy and money into being a great football coach, and how much time and energy we invested in our boys to make sure that they were able to put out what they practice and translate it to the football field.”

Two years later, Kristian led the Panthers to their second championship. During the playoff run, Kristian broke the state records for yards in a career and touchdowns in a career. Once again, Krisse was watching up close on the sideline and got to experience that moment with her family. One month after raising the state championship trophy, he was named Mr. Football in the state of Alabama.

“To see that come to fruition was a great feeling as a mother. To know that he had worked hard and we helped to develop him and put him into a position to be successful,” Krisse said. 

Alongside her job as Aqua Mom, Krisse is the head volleyball coach and an assistant for the girl’s basketball team at Lanett.

She was “voluntold” that she would be the volleyball coach.

“[Clifford] came home and he said, I need a volleyball coach, and I need you to coach. I was kind of voluntold what was going to happen,” Krisse said. “I knew nothing about volleyball. So it was a difficult transition for me, but I really enjoy it. It gives me an opportunity to mentor girls.”

Most of the girls that play volleyball are also on the basketball team, so Krisse gets to continue to develop that mentor relationship with the girls throughout almost the entire school year.

“It’s a process and to be able to continue that process from one season to another, I think it has helped tremendously with character and with social skills and with academics.”

After basketball season ended, the plan for Kristian was to get in the best shape of his life before going off to college. He was going to have access to the Panthers’ weight room and other facilities to get ready for his first Division 1 summer. Because of COVID-19, that plan was forced to change. Instead, he’s been working at home with his family.

Krisse has put up different videos of the two doing different workouts. A couple of the videos have been the two running sprints against each other. Kristian won all three of the races.

“To be able to have my family, together, (and) for us to be able to work out together has meant so much to me. For us to be able to spend time and work out together, it’s been funny,” Krisse said.  “It has been awesome to be able to have time with my boys and spend time with them that I would not have spent. The fact that we’ve been able to buy back some of that time and spend that time together, has been awesome for us.