Returning home to a place mere blocks from where he first emblazoned his name in high school and college football lore, Kurt Page has come full circle.
His hiring as the new athletic director at Franklin Road Academy gives the school even more high of a profile and visibility than possibly ever before. Page, one of Nashville’s most highly recognizable sports names, gained his fame as a star quarterback at Father Ryan, where he finished in 1981. He went to Vanderbilt, where he set a number of passing records.
Page still owns a number of those Commodore passing records – he holds the school’s all-time season passing yardage record with 3,178 in 1983 and he is No. 4 in career yardage with 6,233. He had 12 games of 250-plus passing yards and threw 35 TD passes.
He is returning to Nashville from Houston, where he served as both AD and head football coach at St. Thomas for the past two years. St. Thomas is a primarily Catholic school, which Page called similar to his alma mater, Ryan.
Prior to that, Page, 44, was AD at Randolph School in Huntsville, Ala., from 2002-06. After serving as a grad assistant under coach Jackie Sherrill at Texas A&M in the late 1980s, he was hired as head coach at BGA in the early 1990s. Later, he returned to coach at Ryan, where he guided the Irish to their last football title in 1997.
The hiring last month of high energy David Pack — who came over after guiding Ensworth to the state girls basketball title — as the new football coach was a knockout addition.
Pack fits in well with basketball coaches John Pierce (Lipscomb’s all-time college leading scorer) and Chris Hart. Add a solid track program guided by David Tucker, and things are really looking up at FRA.
Page replaces Gary Clarke, who was an excellent AD and one of the friendliest people you’ll meet.
“I think it’s a very exciting time at FRA,’’ Page said last week in Houston. “I know David Pack well, he is an outstanding coach. I’ve known coach Pierce for awhile, and he’s also a great coach.”
It’s truly a homecoming for Page, in many ways.
“When I was at BGA, Tim Moore, who is on the football staff, was my defensive coordinator (who later became head coach at BGA),’’ Page said. “I’m really looking forward to re-uniting with him.
“Also, (former FRA football coach) George Weicker was one of my teaching instructors when I was a freshman attending Vanderbilt. Coach Tucker was one of my instructors at a summer camp I attended. It’s kind of a re-union for me.
“Mainly, it’s an opportunity for me to remain involved in athletics in a city I love. My wife has been wanting our family to get back to Nashville, and we’re finally here.”
Leaving Houston wasn’t easy. Page made an amazing number of contacts while he was there, with probably the most noteworthy being retired Houston Astros’ star Craig Biggio, whose son attends St. Thomas.
“He was over watching a track meet one day, and I asked him if he would be interested in working with the baseball program,’’ Page said.
“He was really modest and said he didn’t know how much he could add to it. I told him he had already forgotten more baseball than I’d ever know. So he started working with the team – you can imagine how the guys on the team loved having a chance to work with Craig Biggio.’’
But – on to Nashville.
Possibly the biggest addition to FRA may come on the field – Page’s son Doug, a multi-sport standout, will be an incoming junior this season. The 6-2, 195-pound quarterback is already starting to get some college interest.
“As a sophomore, he went from playing JV to starting varsity quarterback midway through the season. We weren’t doing very well, and he came in and started the last five games of the season, and we went 3-2. He passed for seven TDs and ran for three more.
“He also played forward on our basketball team which won state,’’ Page said. “I’m very proud of him.’’
MOVE TO DII?: There have been some discussions at FRA about moving the athletic program to DII from its current AA DI status. A lot will depend on the multiplier when the TSSAA re-organizes schools into classification, based on enrollment.
“That will ultimately be a (FRA) board decision,’’ said Page when asked about that prospect. “There have been some discussions, and the school will make a decision, possibly in late June.’’
NEW CAINE RIDGE COACHES: The new Caine Ridge High in Antioch recently made two very good hires for its basketball programs – Romie Reed from Overton and JoAnne Tribue from Hunters Lane.
“It’s an opportunity for me to go my original home and coach,’’ said Tribue, the former JoAnne Arnold, a star all-around athlete at Antioch and who was inducted into the Metro Athletic Hall of Fame last year. “I will miss all my friends and players at Hunters Lane.’’
New football coach Greg Abner gives Caine Ridge some veteran experience, having served as head coach at Hunters Lane and Glencliff.
JEFFERSON BACK ON TRACK: Ensworth High multi-sport star Tavarres Jefferson finally returned to the athletic scene after he suffered a season-ending football injury in a mid-October loss to eventual DII state champ MBA. He missed the rest of the season as well as the entire Tigers’ basketball season while undergoing rehab.
But he recently came back to compete for the Tigers’ track team in the Doug Hall Relays, running a leg on their 4X100 quartet.
“I really missed both sports,’’ said Jefferson, who will be a rising senior. “I’ve worked hard in the weight room and I’m almost completely back to full strength, and I should be ready for football.’’
BGA SALUTE: Battle Ground Academy’s baseball team will hold its second annual “Salute to the Troops’’ Friday at 7 p.m. when the Wildcats host Goodpasture. Money will be raised to purchase special backpacks for Tim Ledmen, a BGA parent, and his troops who are stationed in Afghanistan. Both teams will be dressed in camo uniforms.
RYAN SEARCH COMMITTEE: Ryan has announced a search committee to find replacements for athletic director Hosey Holzapfel and girls basketball coach Paula Jackson, who announced their resignations recently. Marty Blair, a Ryan parent, will head the search.