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From Here to Eternity

Chad & Tippy Lunsford

Posted: March 20, 2018 11:05 a.m.
Updated: March 20, 2018 10:57 a.m.
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Chad & Tippy Lunsford

From Here to Eternity

 

     When Eagle head football coach Chad Lunsford was chosen in December of 2017 to lead the team he had worked for through five head coaches, he was realizing his dream and goal of one day coaching at the college level. A dream that started long before he began his career at Georgia Southern in 2013 under Coach Jeff Monken. Lunsford’s dream started on the much smaller campus of Georgia College in Milledgeville, one day when he was watching flag football outside his dorm window.

     He happened to spy Tiffany “Tippy” Hyde on the field.

     “I was playing flag football and practicing outside his dorm,” said Tippy. “I was the quarterback.”

     According to Tippy, Lunsford approached her one day with admiration for her athleticism.

     “I was in great condition then, and he asked if he could touch my abs,” said Tippy.

     Tippy was a freshman majoring in biology, and Chad, a sophomore majoring in biology and math. He started doing videography for the football team at nearby Georgia Military Academy to help him pay his way through school. The job allowed him to live and eat for free at GMA, while finishing classes at Georgia College. Eventually he moved onto the field in a coaching position and got paid for his work.

     “He will tell you we met at a dance club,” Tippy said. “But we are not bar hoppers or night people, we are morning folks.”

     She chose biology as a major because she was good at it and passionate about it. He wanted something to fall back on. His real dream was college level coaching. He went on to attain a Masters in sports management.

     They married after college and together have been to seven schools: App State, Georgia Southern (under Mike Sewak from 2003 – 2006), Griffin High School (for one year), back to Georgia Military, Auburn (for four years), then back to Georgia Southern for six seasons, the longest they have stayed in one place.

     Tippy taught biology at Statesboro High School for three years during their first stay in Statesboro, and one year at Griffin before they were able to start a family. She’s been back at SHS for one year.

     “It took 3.5 years for us to have Sophie,” said Tippy. “I underwent fertility treatments and became a stay-at-home Mom. My goal was to be a wife and mother, that’s why I chose a teaching career. I thought it would be a great career with children.”

     The Lunsford didn’t think they would be able to have more children, but were blessed when son Rhett came along in sixteen months. Rhett was followed by baby Clay.

     “We were told Clay had some genetic problems,” Tippy shared. “I carried him full term, and after he was born, he was not able to sustain life. But, he taught us a lot about life.”

     “As a family he brought us closer to God,” she said. “After Clay, I said, ‘Not again!’ Then two years later we were blessed with Josie Belle, our rainbow baby. She brings crazy happiness to our family. She is the last one and a lot of joy.”

     Sophie is now ten-years-old, Rhett, nine, and Josie Belle, six. They are all students at Julia P. Bryant Elementary, which for the time being makes morning drop-off easy. Not so easy for their afternoons, however.

     Sophie is a budding actress/artist active in the Averitt Center for the Arts Youth Theater program, recently performing in their production of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. She also enjoys drawing and painting. She is a member of a 10 & under traveling softball team.

     Rhett loves to watch sports and he excels at basketball and chess. He got into basketball after attaining a black belt in karate and he plays on the JPB Chess Team.

     Josie Belle started kindergarten this year and loves acting in roles for children in plays directed by Eddie Frazier with theater students at SHS.

     “I asked Josie Belle what she wanted to sign up for this year after school,” said Tippy. “She said nap time.” It seems she has discovered that kindergarten doesn’t have a nap time like preschool.

     The Lunsfords have been in Statesboro since 2013 when Chad came back to coach wide receivers at Georgia Southern under Coach Jeff Monken. He has been a solid part of the Eagle coaching staff through Monken, Fritz, McGee and Summers. How has he managed to survive five head coaching changes and still remain focused on his goal of one day being head coach of a college program?

     “I survived by my faith,” Lunsford said. “I believe I’m here for a purpose. I haven’t always known what that purpose is, but I always find out the reason for me being at Georgia Southern each time.”

     One of Lunsford’s favorite scriptures is Isaiah 40:31 (KJV), “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

     That faith has led him to see that the advantage of serving under several head coaches is the amount of knowledge gained from each experience.

     When Lunsford coached slotbacks under Mike Sewak from 2003-2006, “I was getting the base of my option knowledge,” he said.

     From Jeff Monken he developed an understanding of how to create a winning culture: “We expect to win and this is how we’re going to do it,” he said.

     From Willie Fritz, Lunsford gained knowledge in “leadership, organization and how to get the most out of people - both players and coaches.”

     Lunsford was asked to join Fritz when he left to take the head coaching position at Tulane, but decided to stay with the Eagles. He loves Statesboro, he’s from Georgia, and he is at home in Paulson Stadium.

     When Summers was chosen as head coach, it made sense to work with recruiting coordinator Lunsford in selecting a new class of players for the 2016 season, with only three weeks left until national signing day.

     In early 2017, Lunsford was named Assistant Head Coach by Summers in recognition of his work in coaching wide receivers, tight ends, special teams and in serving as recruiting coordinator. Summers was quoted as saying, “He is very deserving of this opportunity we’re excited about his leadership, taking over more of the team aspect.”

     Neither Summers, nor Lunsford expected that he would be leading the Eagles into the 2018 season.

     “I learned from Coach Summers a desire to do right by the players,” said Lundford.

     That’s a purpose and a tradition, that Lunsford will carry forward as Georgia Southern’s head coach.

     “There’s a feeling you get as a player at Georgia Southern. It’s tied to the traditions. The yellow bus ride and the song. Eagle Creek. Erk Russell. The winning traditions,” he said. “We want the seniors to go out with that feeling of having played for Georgia Southern, what that means and what is expected from them. We want them to pass that experience down to the younger players so that they’ll know what the winning feeling is about.”

     “I want our players to know I’ve been here, I understand Georgia Southern, and I understand our goals. I want our fans to understand that we need them, too,” he said. “Our players need some positive encouragement on the field. They need to run into that stadium knowing that 20,000 screaming fans are there to see a winning team. They need Eagle Nation behind them all the way.”

     “That’s what we love about Statesboro,” said Tippy. “It’s the people. They are so passionate for whatever – church, a new grocery story, school rivalry, winning football teams. I love that passion. When they’re happy or when they’re not, they let you know! We love living in a town of good, caring people, like Statesboro.”


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