Rance Gillespie got a chance to catch up with some old friends from Middle Georgia Monday at Healy Point Country Club.
Gillespie, Georgia Southern’s offensive coordinator who coached for 10 years at Peach County, took part in the inaugural OrthoGeorgia Football Coaches Clinic. More than 130 high school football coaches from as far away as Savannah took part as did assistant coaches from Georgia, Georgia Tech and Valdosta State.
“It was a great chance to visit Middle Georgia and see old friends,” said Gillespie, who is entering his third season on Chris Hatcher’s staff. “I coached against a lot of people in this room. I love getting back to Middle Georgia and talking about football. I had a lot of good years at Peach County, and this area is full of special people who always treated me great.”
Gillespie has had a busy summer with recruiting, speaking engagements and various camps at Georgia Southern. But he said when it comes down to it, football still comes first.
The Eagles have gone 13-9 in their first two seasons with Hatcher and his staff.
“There is no feeling like getting on the grass and coaching football,” Gillespie said. “It does not matter if you are in front of 90,000 people at Georgia or 10,000 people at Peach County High School, it is still an electrifying event. The biggest difference is in high school, we don’t really see the players till after school at 3:30. In college, you see them first thing in the morning.”
The other featured speakers in Monday’s event were Valdosta State defensive backs coach Seth Wallace, Georgia Tech defensive backs coach Charles Kelly and Georgia tight ends coach John Lilly.
Scott Hefner, OrthoGeorgia’s director of marketing, says the turnout was so impressive that he could see the event growing into a larger function in the near future.
“We usually hold a sports medicine clinic, but we decided to try something different this year,” Hefner said.” We have had such great response from all over the state that we are hoping to expand this to a two-day event, maybe even as soon as next year. It is a great opportunity to talk football and hear some excellent speakers from some great colleges.”
Almost all of the local schools were represented at the clinic, but Mount de Sales went one step further. The Cavaliers had virtually their entire coaching staff present.
“I thought it would be a great way to gear up for the football season,” head coach Robert Slocum said. “The chance for us to sit here and listen to quality speakers in our own back yard was really too much to pass up. “We have a lot of football to play over the next four months, and I looked at it as a great way to get all of my coaches on the same page.”
Central head coach Anthony Hines was also present and already made one decision about next year.
”This will definitely be a mandatory event for all my coaches,” Hines said. “You can learn so much from listening to things other coaches are doing, with different schemes and such. I think it puts you in the right mind-set for football practice, which starts Monday.”