WARNER ROBINS -- Chad Alligood’s coaching career has covered a few Middle Georgia miles and a broad spectrum of programs.
And he knows. The grass might seem like it’s greener on the other side of that fence, and coaches might get tired of the grass they’re on and consider it too familiar or take it for granted.
The Northside offensive coordinator qualifies for none of those categories, in his fifth year with the Eagles and for the second time.
Alligood isn’t a Northside alum, but he knows why so many who play at Northside, graduate, get into coaching and find their way back to Green Street.
He graduated from Wilkinson County and spent a few years at John Milledge before getting a job at Northside. Six seasons later, he took a position at his alma mater, a move he began questioning fairly soon thereafter. Then-Eagles head coach Conrad Nix and his wife told him they’d offer no I-told-you-sos, and he found out soon enough they didn’t have to.
“I saw what it was, and I saw what everything else didn’t have, when I left,” Alligood said. “There’s just something special about this place. You can only know it if you experience it.”
So when Northside takes the field Friday night in the GHSA Class AAAAA title game against Mays, the Eagles’ staff will be filled with those who have experienced it.
That group includes Reggie Thorpe (class of 2004), Tyler Kinsler (2007), Mark Stewart (1978), Daniel Sayles (2001), Kelvin McDavis (2000), Dyron Adams (1991), Lee Pope (1980) and head coach Kevin Kinsler (1979).
Alligood is one of the few non-Northside alums on the staff. So when any of his colleagues, alumni or just veterans of the program, find something to complain about, he is there to remind them how things are elsewhere.
“I’d say, ‘Look guys, do not forget how great we have it. What y’all are complaining about is minute compared to every other situation,’ ” Alligood said of his return after stints at Perry and FPD followed his year at Wilkinson County.
The standards and routines for the football program grew under Nix and have been maintained by Kinsler, who has been at Northside for two dozen years. From the weekly devotionals to talking about more than football, little has changed in the program’s philosophy.
“We have a burning desire to want to do it right, do it the right way and put the kids in a position to be successful,” said McDavis, heir apparent to Stewart in heading the offensive line.
McDavis didn’t grow up in Georgia, so the Northside philosophy meant nothing to him when he moved to the area in eighth grade. But soon enough, it did, and when his mother moved him back to New Orleans his junior year, he made her move him back for his senior year.
“As you get a little more mature, you can actually see what the coaches are trying to tell you,” he said. “They teach you how to survive in life, fight through adversity. Things of that sort.
“We’re learning how to be men. It’s more than just football. It’s learning how to be men.”
The staff has lost alumni in recent years, only to replace them with others.
One is Tyler Kinsler, the oldest son of the head coach who has seen the program from a variety of angles: player, son of the head coach, quasi-volunteer coach and now full-time coach.
It hasn’t changed.
“Coach Stewart said it,” Kinsler said. “You can coach as hard as you want as long as the kids know you love them and you’d do anything for them. That’s how it was when I played here, and that’s how it is now. I was loved; I felt that way.”
Few are as happy as Adams, whose smile seems to take only a little time off.
He has been in Houston County education for nearly 20 years since graduating from Northside in 1991, most of those years on the middle-school level and seven as the athletics director at Northside Middle School. So while he was connected to the varsity Eagles, it was from a distance.
Now in his second year on the staff, the approach is completely different. It’s all work.
“Not being here, it was more room to be excited,” the head ninth-grade coach and assistant baseball coach said. “There was more room for excitement. Now, you make sure you got your job done. You don’t soak it in as much beforehand; you do that afterwards.”
And it’s seriously in his blood.
“My dad graduated from here; my mother taught here for 25 years,” he said. “My grandma was the media specialist when I was born. My first game was the Warner Robins game when I was less than 1 year old.
“Didn’t miss any since then.”
His timing is pretty good, with the Eagles reaching the title game in his second year. That’s just a chunk of icing on the cake.
“It’s better than I could ever have imagined it to be,” Adams said. “In every possible way there is. I wish I’d have been here my first year. I couldn’t have imagined it being as good as it is.”
The feelings are old news to Alligood.
“The thing about here, 100 percent of the people are bought in to want success for Northside High School, from top to bottom,” he said, citing a variety of sports and non-sports success, like the recent fifth straight state one-act play competition championship. “There’s not a faction that does not want Northside to be successful in everything. That’s what makes it special.”
And that keeps the alums coming back.