Coach Fordham teaches life lessons
By SANDRA THAMES / Community Columnist
After only a short time playing volleyball (she began in fourth grade) Andrea Neri (now Fordham) knew she wanted to teach and coach volleyball. Because of her dad’s job, the family moved a lot and Fordham played everywhere they moved. Born in Albany, N.Y., she moved to Birmingham in 1998 where she attended Hoover High School.
“I feel like with coaching I am able to reach kids on another level and am able to be a larger, more positive influence on their lives,” she said.
When the Neri family came to Birmingham, they did not know about all the Alabama-Auburn rivalry. When Fordham and her dad began to search for colleges she wanted a “college town” feel – not a school in the middle of a city.
“When I got to Auburn I knew I was home” said Fordham.
A member of Zeta Tau Alpha sorority, Fordham was the philanthropy chair and organized the now annual “Big Man on Campus” pageant fundraiser for the Susan G. Koman Breast Cancer Foundation. She graduated from Auburn in 2004.
After a two-year stint of coaching and teaching in Savannah, Ga., she then took a job in Tuscaloosa teaching, but missed her volleyball coaching.
“In 2007 I got a job at Thompson Middle School and have been here ever since,” she said. “I coach seventh and eighth grade volleyball and seventh and eighth grade girls and boys tennis. Coaching two sports is challenging, but I love every minute of it.”
“Goals of coaching are different for different individuals. I want my players to learn the sport and love it…..have fun, enjoy but work hard! Sometimes I have to go into ‘mom mode,’ but not often,” she said.
Husband Nathan Fordham teaches and coaches baseball and football at Chelsea High School. Football is his passion and Alabama is his favorite team.
Visiting her parents who now reside on Lake Norman in Charlotte, N.C., or his folks in Glencoe, plus teaching and coaching double sports keeps this couple busy.