Today's interviewee is Steve Pardue, who was selected last week for induction into the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame. Pardue was a head coach in Georgia for 20 seasons, 17 at LaGrange and three at East Coweta. His teams were 185-54 and won three state and eight region championships. Pardue later coached on the staff at the University of Kentucky and was head coach at LaGrange College. He retired last year. Pardue lives within a mile of Callaway Stadium and watches games there involving LaGrange, Troup and Callaway every week.
Steve Pardue, GACA Coaches Hall of Fame selectee
1. How do you feel about the news of your selection into the Hall of Fame? "I was really humbled last week when I found out I had been elected into the GACA Hall of Fame. I told my wife it meant three things. One, I had a bunch of great players. Two, I had a bunch of great coaches and administrators. Three, I'm getting old. But seriously, I am very honored."
2. You've coached at many places from high school to college, but you're best known for your time at LaGrange. That was an incredible decade of success for the Grangers. What were the factors that led to that 2000-09 era of dominance [with a record of 114-17]? "My time at LaGrange was very special. There were so many factors that led to our success. First, it started with a great run of players that really bought into the program and put it in front of individual success. We also had an incredible coaching staff that stayed together for many years. I was very blessed to have the same coordinators for 17 years as head coach, David Traylor on offense and Donnie Branch on defense. The administration, faculty and staff at the high school and feeder schools were all a big part of our program. Lastly, the parents and the community trusted that we would do what was best for the kids and allowed us to do our job."
3. Which of those LaGrange teams do you believe was your best? And where do you think it ranks in history for schools of that size? "I get asked that question a lot, and I never answer. We had several great teams, and I stay in contact with players from all those teams and don't want to make any of them mad. I do think that all our teams from the early 2000s could play with any schools our size [in state history]. Our teams took great pride in playing physical football and having fun playing the game. We would probably get a lot of penalties under the new rules." [LaGrange won state titles in 2001, 2003 and 2004. It's doubtful that any Georgia school had three better linebackers over a five-year span than Tray Blackmon, Sam Olajubutu and Wesley Woodyard.]
4. Who was the biggest influence on you as a football coach, and then what is the best advice you might give a new head coach, or aspiring head coach, about what it takes to be successful? "That is an easy question. Without a doubt, Conrad Nix had the greatest influence on me as a coach. I worked for Coach Nix at Fayette County in 1985 and Albertville, Alabama, in 1986. I obviously learned a lot about football but even more about being a husband and father. His wife, Patsy, was also a great influence on my wife, Pam. My advice for any young coach would be to coach the kids the way you would want someone to coach your own kids. Also, I think it is important to be yourself and trust your own instincts."
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