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PROFILE: Pat Doherty
FROM: Irondequoit, NY
HIGH SCHOOL: 2004 Eastridge HS
2016 to present: University of Georgia
2013-2016: University of Arkansas
2010-2013: Emporia State University
2008-2010: St. John Fisher College
2004-2008: Eastridge High School
FAVORITE THING ABOUT COACHING DIVISION 1 FOOTBALL: Amazing fascilities, financial support and working with top athletes, coaches and support staff.
ROLE MODELS: His parents
How do you become a football coach at a Division 1, SEC powerhouse, Georgia? Well it helps if you played college football. It definitely helps if you played in the NFL. But what if you were a 5’10” offensive lineman that had no interest playing football past high school? What if you didn’t have any connections besides your high school coaches?
I think you would agree that the odds of becoming a coach at the best conference in Division 1 football were not good!
“You mean, not good like one out of a hundred?”
“I’d say more like one out of a million.”
“So you’re telling me there’s a chance.”
If you guessed this hilarious exchange between Mary Swanson and Lloyd Christmas from the movie Dumb & Dumber, you’re right. Sometimes you either have to be foolish enough to ignore the odds, or you just have that special something in you…
FIRE WITHIN: Pat Doherty
Pat entered the halls of Eastridge High School in the fall of 2000. He wasn’t the studies kind and most often you would find him scribbling football plays in his notebook. He had no major life aspirations besides wanting to be relevant. And as his high school days came to an end, he figured he’d become relevant by being a high school coach and maybe even a shop or history teacher. So after graduating, he enrolled at a local community college and became a volunteer coach for his high school.
There is a fundamental difference between wanting to be relevant and being relevant. After all, most people want to be relevant, but the ones that actually become relevant have an internal drive, a fire within. Pat didn’t start with a fire. He didn’t even have a spark. However, the spark that ignites a fire often comes at an unexpected and sometimes even unwanted moment.
School definitely wasn’t Pat’s thing and going into the spring semester of his second year, he was put on academic probation. That’s when he got his spark.
“How do you expect to teach boys to walk like men, when you crawl like a dog?”
It’s never pleasant being called out, but Pat needed to be. While retaking a chemistry class, he was introduced to the professor responsible for delivering that Crucible-esque truth. Unlike other professors, Dr. Ketchum actually saw something in Pat. And like a chemical reaction, they formed a bond.
That semester, Dr. Ketchum helped Pat gain the confidence and motivation to become a model to his players not only ‘on’ the field, but more importantly ‘off’ the field. Within months, Pat went from academic probation to dean’s list. He eventually earned his associate degree with a 3.4 GPA.
Amid his spring academic turnaround, another event helped fuel his newly started fire. Pat was fortunate to be part of an Eastridge coaching staff that attended a coaches’ clinic at Penn State. The entire experience put him in awe and it was exactly what he needed to get his fire ablaze.
There is a fascinating phenomenon called the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon. It states that the more you prime your mind for new patterns, the more you experience them. Seeing a major football program from such close perspective gave Pat a vision of what his life could be like. From then on, his focus shifted to coaching Division 1 football.
Pat initially had no idea how he would get to the college level. However, shortly after the coaching clinic, he made a connection with a co-worker at his night job at Coyote Joe’s. At that time, Greg Pyszczynski was only a student assistant coach at St. John Fisher. In spite of that, he helped Pat get a work study position with the football team.
Combined with his initial spark from his college professor and fueled by his vision of coaching at a Division 1 program, Pat spent the next two years working harder than he’s ever worked before. Football became his passion and he was living the words his dad Michael often preached to him, “if you love what you’re doing, you’ll never work a day in your life.” It showed and when it was time to move on from Fisher, Pat didn’t just earn a college degree, he earned a reputation.
That reputation became the key to his success. He was no longer a no-name guy that never played college football. Instead, he was the guy willing to do the grunt work because he loved it. His work ethic became his brand and other coaches noticed. He moved on to Division 2 Emporia State, before finally reaching Division 1 as a Graduate Assistant at Arkansas.
Despite many transitional challenges at Arkansas, Pat continued proving his worth. He was able to make such an impact on Jim Chaney, the program’s then Offensive Coordinator, that when Coach Chaney went onto Pittsburgh and later onto Georgia, he brought Pat along.
Pat’s journey through the college ranks was by no means easy. He often faced challenges that made him question himself. Yet he never gave up. Instead, he learned to lean on what has always gotten him through, his work ethic. And even though Pat has reached the upper echelon of college football, he’s anything but done yet. His goal now is to move up the coaching tree and become a Tight End Coach. What happens past that is uncertain. Well, with exception of one thing, Pat has… the FIRE WITHIN!