Our favorite coaches: Oct. 6 marks National Coaches Day

Our favorite coaches: Oct. 6 marks National Coaches Day
WALB Sports (Source: WALB)

ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Oct. 6 marks National Coaches Day.

To honor the coaches we have grown to love, WALB has compiled a list of some of our favorite coaches.

Our sports and digital writers each submitted their picks for this list.

Here is Digital Content Executive Producer Dave Miller’s pick:

Vince Dooley and the Dawgs on the road in the 70s.
Vince Dooley and the Dawgs on the road in the 70s. (Source: UGA Athletics)

Vincent Joseph Dooley, University of Georgia football coach

When Dooley was hired to lead the Bulldogs, UGA had won 10 games in three seasons. They were one of the worst teams in the Southeastern Conference.

But Georgia Athletic Director Joel Eaves, under great pressure to restore Georgia’s football glory, and with confidence that the Auburn assistant coach could get the job done, Eaves banked on the 31-year-old Dooley’s intelligence, drive, and discipline to right Georgia’s ship.

Amid questions of “Vince, who?,” Eaves hired Dooley for the 1964 season, and he promptly turned the Dawgs around.

In his first year, Dooley won seven games, one more than UGA had won in the previous two years. They only lost to powerhouses Alabama, Florida State and Auburn.

From there, Georgia only got better.

They did lose four games in 1965, but beat defending national champion Alabama.

The next year, UGA went 10-1, with a one-point loss at Miami keeping the Dawgs from a probable national title.

In a quarter-century, 25 seasons in Athens, Dooley averaged over eight wins a year, won six Southeastern Conference championships (1966, 1968, 1976, 1980, 1981, 1982) and one National Championship in 1980. He had one Heisman Trophy winner, Herschel Walker, who won in his junior year.


Here are Sports Director Paige Dauer’s favorite coaches:

Tucker Pruitt, Fitzgerald head football coach

Coach Pruitt’s love for the purple and gold, undoubtedly runs deep. But when it mattered, he supported another team. He and the Purple Hurricanes came together last year in their game against Irwin County to honor and support Head Coach Buddy Nobles in his fight against stomach cancer.

Zach Grage, Thomasville head football coach

Coach Grage’s commitment to the Bulldogs is unwavering. In all our conversations over the years, you can always hear how passionate he is about his team and making sure he sets his players up for success on and off the field.

Alan Rodemaker, Colquitt County defensive coordinator

In 2016, Coach Rod brought the Valdosta Wildcats its first state championship title since 1998. As dominating as Coach Rod was on and off the field for the Wildcats, he’s now poised with a new challenge. Leading the Colquitt County Packers as their defensive coordinator. Wherever he goes, you’ll always be able to find him, thanks to his trademark voice that can captivate any audience.

SGA Coach Woodie Kirkland
SGA Coach Woodie Kirkland (Source: WALB)

Woodie Kirkland, Southwest Georgia Academy head softball coach

Coach Kirkland and the Warriors have dominated the softball world for the past six years, reaching the program’s first fast-pitch state championship game in 2019. Coach Kirkland knows what it takes to create and maintain a top tier program. Some of Southwest Georgia’s main rivals are Southland, Brookwood, and Terrell Academy.

Maurice Freeman, Brooks County head football coach

Maurice Freeman (Source: WALB)
Maurice Freeman (Source: WALB)

Coach Freeman has been the rock for the Trojans. Carrying his players through numerous tragedies. This season, they take the field each Friday and play for their former teammate Cenquaz Perry, who was killed in August. The Trojans 4-0 start is their best start since 2017. Freeman has also recently secured his 214th win as a head coach.

Here is Sports Anchor Kyle Logan’s pick:

Erik McDougald, Thomasville head baseball coach

The relationships Coach McDougald has with his players and the community in Thomasville is top notch. His pedigree for success and making sure his kids had a chance at the next level also makes him stand out.

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