By R. Alan Richardson
In Morgan County and Madison, Alvin Richardson is no stranger to the community. He’s spent the past 30+ years as a head football coach, teacher, assistant principal, and principal as a pillar of our county. Recently, he was interviewed by the Max Preps Georgia High School Football Daily about another talent he has that has led him to state-wide recognition. Richardson has become a well-known author, writer, columnist, and speaker throughout Georgia who has taken his love for history into the realm of another love he has; high school football. Below is the interview from the article of that publication called “Four Questions”. Each week in this section they highlight a coach, player, official, or others that have been instrumental to the game and get their take on the game.
Thanks go out to MaxPreps.com Georgia High School Football Daily for this special feature.
GHSF Daily is expanding its Four Questions feature this season beyond head coaches to other voices in high school football. Today’s interviewee is Alvin Richardson, a Georgia high school football researcher, book writer and former head coach. He has written football books on several schools, including Gainesville, Mary Persons, Thomson and Carrollton. He’s currently working on a book on Valdosta.
Alvin Richardson, Ga. high school football researcher
1. What’s your high school football background, and how did you get started writing these history books? “I started coaching at Cook High in Adel, where I was lucky enough to work under Bud Willis, who had been the head coach at Moultrie for 12 years. Coach Willis was a great mentor for a greenhorn and gave me the confidence I needed to become successful. My second job was at Lincoln County under another legendary coach, Larry Campbell, from 1979 until 1986. We played for four state championships, winning twice. During that stretch, I learned what it took to run a top-shelf program as well as some valuable lessons on how to navigate through difficulties that football coaches face on a daily basis. I also gained some lifelong friendships that I treasure, people like Coach Campbell, coach Howard Ellis and coach Keith Middleton, not to mention dozens of people in the Lincolnton community. I will never forget what they did for me.
“In 1987, Wayne Bradshaw left Morgan County, my alma mater, and I applied for the head football coach job. I spent six seasons there as football coach and athletic director. Our best season was 1990, when our team went 10-3 and made the quarterfinals before losing to eventual state champion Pepperell. In 1991, I fell victim to kidney failure but coached through the 1992 season, when I gave up the job to get back to full health. After that I became an assistant principal at Morgan County and retired from full-time work in 2007.
“As for the football history books, I decided to do one for our school, Morgan County, simply as a community-service project. It took several years because I was still working. I didn’t really know what I was doing, but our community really loved it. After that response, I just started calling around to see if anyone else was interested, and the idea took off.
“Since that time, I’ve done books on the football history of several schools including Gainesville, Thomson with John Barnett, Mary Persons, Carrollton and a mini-version of one for Jefferson. I’m currently doing one for Valdosta, and it’s a pretty daunting task. Valdosta is, without question, the gold standard in terms of historical perspective for high school football in Georgia, if not the nation. I’m very proud to be asked to do it.”
2. What does writing one of these books entail? “I’ve learned a little more each time I’ve done a book. One key is to find all the old yearbooks because the pictures from them are timeless and give the books a wonderful historical feel. I’ve been lucky enough to have worked with media center leaders who have entrusted their priceless books with me for long stretches. It’s also important to get to know key people in the community who have made it their business to save vast storehouses of knowledge about the program. I can’t do it without them. Another thing is to sit down with big-name coaches to get their input. For example, Dan Pitts at Mary Persons, Bruce Miller at Gainesville or, in the case of Carrollton, coach Charlie Grisham’s family, who treated me like family and made a wealth of information and memorabilia available. After that it’s just old-fashioned digging in the library. I typically go to UGA and find the local newspapers on microfilm to get game reports, and that is an arduous task.”
3. What are some of the most interesting things you’ve learned? “Well, of course there’s not enough room here to get to all of the things I’ve learned, but in working on the Valdosta book, I’ve been able to have unlimited access to their museum that is located at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium. I can tell you first hand that it is an amazing place. Just the sheer volume of great pictures and information in there is something no fan of high school football should miss. I have spent entire days there and still haven’t seen and read everything. It really brings home the fact that Valdosta is truly a mecca for the game. David Waller put together a one-of-a-kind showplace there, and of course quite fittingly the museum bears his name.”
4. What is the most enjoyable part of writing these history books? “I’m an old history teacher, an old football coach, and I enjoy writing. That puts it right in my wheelhouse. I really love traveling to these places to get an inside look at these great programs and the people that have made them what they are. That includes the coaches, players, administrators and fans. These are my kind of folks, and I feel right at home doing these projects. I cannot adequately describe how proud it makes me to see all the great people who are taking care of our kids in Georgia’s high schools. For some reason, there seems to be a lot of criticism of public schools these days, but I can tell those critics that they are 100 percent wrong. Our kids are in good hands.”
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