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Memory Lane: Paul Pendleton

March 19th, 2007 12:57 am by BILL LANE

Paul Pendleton

Born: Jan. 23, 1964

Where: Dayton, Ohio

High Schools/Colleges: Lynn View, Sullivan North/Furman, The Citadel

Residence: Bristol, Tenn.

Then: With Sullivan North football just getting started in 1980, a premium player was needed.

Paul Pendleton immediately became the team's cornerstone.

Coach Bill Cassidy was familiar with Pendleton because he had played as a freshman at Lynn View before consolidation.

The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Pendleton was tough, agile and eager to compete - just the guy Cassidy wanted to anchor his line.

A well-rounded athlete, he also stood out in track and field and provided rebound strength for the Golden Raiders' basketball team, which was overflowing with quality players.

"I was committed to athletics and enjoyed every minute of it,'' Pendleton said.

A three-year starter on the football team, he played tight end and defensive end. Pendleton contained and attacked, getting 46 tackles and six assists as a junior and 47 tackles and eight assists the next season.

North upset Gate City 6-0 in 1981. The game had special meaning for Pendleton, whose family had lived near Gate City.

The Raiders beat archrival Sullivan South 3-0 in 1982 on a last-second field goal when fog was so thick the goal post was barely visible.

"That kept South from retiring the floating Mason-Dixon trophy,'' Pendleton said.

During Pendleton's time at North, the Raiders defeated every Big 10 Conference football team at least once - except Tennessee High.

He was an all-conference selection twice. As a senior, Pendleton was an All-Northeast Tennessee choice and received all-state honorable mention.

North's high-profile basketball team included three all-staters. Pendleton didn't mind being a role player.

"We had a lot of success,'' he said. "The gym was almost always filled. I remember standing-room-only crowds for the South, Central and Dobyns-Bennett games. People were hanging from the rafters.''

Pendleton threw the discus, did the shot put and ran on the 4x100 and 1,600-meter relay teams. North's 4x100 group won the Big 10 title. Pendleton could run 400 meters in 51 seconds.

Furman University football coach Dick Sheridan came calling.

"I really didn't know a lot about Furman,'' Pendleton said. "I knew it had a small-school atmosphere and that Sheridan ran a class program. He expected you to be a class person if you played at Furman. You had to have character. He wouldn't allow profanity or unsportsmanlike conduct. We kept our mouths shut. If we scored, we handed the ball to the officials. Sheridan expected his program to shine. He was a class act.''

Having South's Tim Stepp, Science Hill's Stan Davis, Jefferson County's Mark Cagle and Tennessee High's Kent McCormick as teammates offered Pendleton a touch of home.

He was a starter 3½ seasons. Pendleton had the speed and mobility to execute offensive plays effectively as a pulling guard.

He played on two Southern Conference championship teams, in 1983 and 1985. The 1985 squad lost 44-42 in the final seconds to Georgia Southern in the Division I-AA national title game at Tacoma, Wash.

Reaching Tacoma in inclement weather was a challenge, requiring 18 hours of travel. The snowbound players spent about five hours onboard their plane waiting for takeoff clearance in Indianapolis.Pendleton did postgraduate studies at The Citadel. He entered coaching and was successful in football, track and girls basketball over a 12-year period.

Coaching the line was his bag. He was at Shallotte, N.C., for one year, and at West Florence, S.C., for two. He coached six seasons at Berkeley in Moncks Corner, S.C. Berkeley went 15-0 and won the Division I, 4A state championship without having a close game.

Pendleton coached three years at James F. Burns in Spartanburg, then became assistant principal at Harold C. Johnson Middle School in York, S.C.

"I loved coaching but had a passion for the administrative side,'' said Pendleton, who came home six years ago and served as assistant principal for three years at Sullivan East.

"Athletics have been a big part of my life,'' he said. "Participating in sports pretty much defined what I am today. My experiences in high school and college led me into coaching. A lot of my philosophy was shaped by the coaches I had.''

Now: Pendleton is in his third year as assistant principal and athletic director at Tennessee High.

"It's not about pay,'' he said. "I don't do what I do because of what I get paid. Getting to see the kids perform and grow is worth it. You can never pay a high school coach what he or she is worth. Coaches have such an influence on kids, it's amazing. That's why I want all of our coaches at Tennessee High to have a positive influence.''

Pendleton has many duties. He directs 350 student-athletes in 16 sports. Spring - often requiring 70-hour weeks to oversee baseball, softball, track, tennis and boys soccer - is the most difficult time for him. Those around him say Pendleton is fair but firm.

Winter also is demanding. A typical workday for Pendleton, when a home basketball game is scheduled, begins at 7 a.m. and ends at 11 p.m.

He is married to the former Evelyn Lawson, his high school sweetheart. She's a bookkeeper at Bluff City Middle School. They have two sons and a daughter - Matthew, 14, a freshman at Tennessee High; Joshua, 12, a fifth-grader at Avoca Elementary, and Ashley, 8, a second-grader at Avoca.

The family attends Kingsley United Methodist Church in Bloomingdale.

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