DALTON, Ga. (WRCB) -- Vic Grider always assumed he'd one day return to the sidelines. He just didn't know when or where it would happen.
Turns out that day is coming sooner than expected, and at a place that surprised even him.
Grider was introduced as the new head coach at Coahulla Creek High School during the school's annual football banquet Monday night, nearly a year to the day when he resigned his coaching post at South Pittsburg.
"There was just something about the place that I just couldn't turn away from it," Grider said about the three-year-old Whitfield County school. "Through every conversation we had and every time I came down to meet with people, it was just a very intriguing opportunity from the very beginning."
Grider takes one of the area's most successful high school coaching resumes across the border to take over the Colts.
The former South Pittsburg player won 81-percent of his games (162-43) across 16 seasons as the head coach at his alma mater. He led the Pirates to three state championships and two state runner-up finishes during that stretch, and also helped the program win a state championship during his seven years as an assistant prior to taking over the top spot.
He followed the footsteps of his father, the late Don Grider, to become the winningest father-son coaching tandem in TSSAA history.
"South Pittsburg is always going to be my home. That's where I went to school and it's where I grew up. I gave my all in 23 years there and made some great memories, so I'll never forget about it," said Grider, who will finish out the year as South Pittsburg's assistant principal and athletic director. "But you know how we are as coaches. We're always about challenges, and this just seemed like a really neat challenge to me. It's an opportunity to try to something that I'd never done before with a relatively young group of kids in a unique situation.
"I just couldn't let it go."
It turns out Coahulla Creek's administration felt the same way about him.
Dr. Stanley Stewart, the school's principal, led the four-person search committee tasked with hiring a replacement for Jared Hamlin, who was fired last month after three seasons.
Grider never submitted a resume for the opening and has not actively pursued a single coaching position since resigning at South Pitt last December, but he was the Colts' top target all along.
And Stewart refused to take 'no' for an answer.
"We felt strongly that our kids deserved to have the very best coach that we could possibly find, so we went after him," said Stewart, who came back with a second offer after Grider initially turned down the job. "He's taken teams to the championship game with such consistency to keep South Pittsburg at such a high level, so he was at the top of our list from the very beginning and the first call we made.
"It wasn't easy and it wasn't quick, but we were persistent and he remained interested."
And the 47-year-old Grider among those interested to see how this all works out.
There's no doubt this step is entirely outside his comfort zone after spending his entire playing and coaching career in Tennessee with South Pittsburg, but it also offers a chance to make his mark from a very different angle.
Grider was tasked with sustaining and eventually raising the profile of a powerhouse program in South Pittsburg. Now with the Colts, who have won just four games combined in two seasons of varsity play, he has a chance to be the architect who builds a program almost from the ground up.
"We want to build a tradition here and build something special that these kids, this community and this school can be proud of," Grider said. "It's going to take time, though. We'll need to have some patience because it's not going to happen overnight, but I think we have kids here who are willing to work.
"We're going to roll up our sleeves and get to work and see what we can make out of this great opportunity."
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