Wild for the 2015 DHS Wildcats
Overheard at the Mill Glen pool in Dunwoody last month: “They’re on their way up.” As I squint through my sunscreen smeared sunglasses to see what the excitement is, I see a group of dads, air passing footballs. Each is loudly weighing in on how the Dunwoody Wildcat’s football team finally has the key components in place to not only have another building season, but a winning season. Seems everyone is predicting DHS’s scoreboard will be filled with “W’s”.
What is it about the Friday night ritual of DHS football that causes little boys to have stars in their eyes and shoulder pads strung tightly starting at 5 years old with parents, neighbors, and the entire community decked out in DHS Blue and White? According to the head of DHS’s boosters, The Gridiron Club head, Mark Pastrone, “If you are going to ask for support from the community, the players need to support the community also, and these kids have done that.” And I’m here to report as a Dunwoody resident myself, these kids have indeed. They gave my son more candy and high fives during the soggy July fourth parade than he scored all of Halloween, and this 2015 team has shown up to support more community events then even the most involved gold star citizen.
Who is leading these kids into a positive season while also teaching them about community? That would be the incredibly warm and dedicated Coach Mike Nash, DHS’s football coach.
Coach Nash talks as if he still is that 5 year old aforementioned boy with bright eyes, not only for the sport itself, but for this community and upcoming season and the boys on this team and the kids parents and his family, and… (you get the drift, this is a really positive likable guy.). I asked him how he landed at Dunwoody High School and in football in general, and he replies humbly “Thanks to the kindness of past coaches and past teammates who didn’t have to help me, but did. They knew I loved the game and saw that coaching was just in me.”
Playing high school football himself, Coach Nash received a scholarship and spot at Marshall College. But he proudly states, that after one season it was clear to him, playing was making him miserable. Seems while coaching definitely is his thing, playing was not. So he packed up to head home to help with the family printing business and re-group. That rOverheard at the Mill Glen pool in Dunwoody last month: “They’re on their way up.” As I squint through my sunscreen smeared sunglasses to see what the excitement is, I see a group of dads, air passing footballs. Each is loudly weighing in on how the Dunwoody Wildcat’s football team finally has the key components in place to not only have another building season, but a winning season. Seems everyone is predicting DHS’s scoreboard will be filled with “W’s”.e-grouping led to his old football coach creating an opportunity for him, which led to another one along side the guys who had coached him in high school. Nash earned his degree and taught special education and met his wife, Tracy, while working at Shiloh High School. They had two daughters, Jordan (now 16) Gracie (12), and he started his own successful construction business which he sold for $1 just so he could move home quickly and take care of his ailing father-in-law. This curving, non-traditional career path was carved as he always put family, friends, and community first, setting an example of generosity for his young players.
So what is the secret to the DHS Football team this year? Coach Nash and his assistant coaches feel it’s the players: “They want to be great, and it’s up to us to show them how.” This young team is deep and overflowing with “coachable” talented kids.
Coach Nash and everyone in this DHS family has a goal to make the playoffs, and they are working very hard to do just that. Yes, clearly accountability is his thing. When further prodded on why this year’s team is so special, and this season in particular, he replies with a huge smile on his face, “It’s because we have fun every day.” Several of the coaches are younger, and as true mentors to players, know the key to getting the team to trust their changes is by being trustworthy themselves.
Game record aside, Coach Nash, and his staff have scored a season’s worth of “W’s” by sharing their skills and positive attitudes and setting an example of generosity and community spirit. Go Wildcats!