Paul Furman wasn’t expecting the opportunity to arise as suddenly as it did, but when the chance came to finally lead a varsity football program of his own, it didn’t take much to convince him to step up to the plate.
Furman, a former standout two-way lineman at Amsterdam who spent more than a decade as an assistant at his alma mater, was approved earlier this month as the new head football coach at Johnstown. Furman replaces Tyler Hall, who is leaving the Greater Johnstown School District to teach and coach just across the county line at Fonda-Fultonville — his alma mater.
For Furman, who served as an assistant under Hall with the Sir Bills this season, it was a chance far too good to pass up.
“It was something that I didn’t expect,” Furman said. “It was an opportunity that kind of just dropped in my lap. When you don’t expect things, that’s kind of when they happen for you, and I’m extremely excited to have this opportunity to lead the program here in Johnstown.”
Hall will teach physical education at Fonda-Fultonville and serve as an assistant on the varsity football team under head coach Sean Thompson.
“I will have less responsibility at Fonda, but it’s not a bad thing,” Hall said. “I can learn a lot from coach Thompson.”
Hall taught physical education in the Johnstown school district for seven years and served as its varsity football coach for the last five years, with his last team going 2-3 in the “Fall II” season.
Hall graduated from Fonda-Fultonville, and was a three-sport standout there in football, basketball and baseball. He was a starting guard as a senior on the Braves’ basketball team that won the Section II Class B championship in 2010.
“It’s a good opportunity for me and my family. It’s where I grew up,” Hall said of his move to Fonda-Fultonville. “I have a lot of friends there and my kids and their kids can go to school together.”
Hall credited Furman for Johnstown’s improved defense this past season and believes he will fit in well as the Sir Bills head coach.
“He will do a good job,” Hall said. “He knows football, and he works well with kids.”
Furman played alongside future NFL lineman Josh Beekman in the trenches for the Rugged Rams under coach Pat Liverio in the early 2000s. After playing in college at Hudson Valley Community College and American International, Furman returned to Amsterdam and began working as a volunteer assistant.
It was that experience, he said, that guided him into a career in teaching and coaching.
At Amsterdam, Furman was on the staff for both Liverio and Doug Edick, working with the team’s linemen on both sides of the ball and eventually serving as the team’s defensive coordinator. He also served as Amsterdam’s varsity boys’ lacrosse coach from 2013-18.
When John Homich was named Amsterdam’s new varsity coach in 2020 following Edick’s decision to step away from coaching, Furman opted to explore other coaching opportunities and joined Hall’s staff at Johnstown this past season.
“It was definitely the path I wanted to go,” Furman said, “and to go after a football program one day. Things didn’t go the way we wanted them to go in Amsterdam, but I’m extremely excited to be here. When one door closes, another one opens.”
Now leading his own varsity program, Furman said he hopes to impart the smash-mouth, physical style he grew up with in Amsterdam into the Sir Bills’ program while placing a focus on increasing participation in the weight room.
“That’s going to be our foundation,” he said. “We’ve got to get guys in there, get them working, make them better athletes — not just football players.
“Anyone that’s been around football in this area lately knows that champions aren’t born, they’re built. That’s definitely something we need to get after.”
Jim Schiltz contributed to this report.