By Mike Keeney
David Suggs was fortunate. He knew at an early age what he wanted to do with his life, and it appears after all these years that he made the right choice.
While so many young people from Suggs’ generation were trying to “find themselves” Suggs was actually doing something about his future. When he graduated from Western Kentucky University in 1982, Suggs began his coaching career. Twenty-two years later, he has served as a head coach at five programs in Daytona, FL, Willowridge, Port Arthur Lincoln, Beaumont Central and now Nimitz High School in Aldine ISD. Suggs took over the Nimitz program in May of 2004, but even the late start did not keep him from leading the Cougars to the playoffs, the fourth time in the last five years Nimitz has qualified for post-season action.
The Cougars finished 6-5 on the year and while he was pleased with the season, Suggs is expecting bigger and better things for the Cougars in the future. For his efforts, Suggs was named the Northeast News’ Coach of the Year for the 2004 season.
The Shelbyville, TN native admitted getting the job at such a late date had something to do with the Cougars getting off to a 1-2 start.
“You always hope for more, but we were pleased with the season,” Suggs said. “We’ll have more time now with an entire off-season to put things in place the way we want them. We feel we have a good foundation of kids who understand what we want to get done.”
The 44-year-old Suggs played linebacker at WKU before entering the coaching profession. He has 20 years of experience in the coaching field and said his high school coach, Jimmy Fiex, had the most influence on him in becoming a football coach.
“I figured out at an early age that teaching and coaching were something I wanted to do,” the soft-spoken Suggs said. “Coach Fiex had a big influence on me because of the way he managed players and the way he managed his staff.”
Suggs believes strongly in building relationships with his players and coaches. He believes if there are open lines of communication then trust is built, which is paramount in his profession.
“What I am is a reflection of the relationships I’ve developed with my coaches over the years,” he said. “You must respect one another or it won’t work. You have to remember you’re with these guys from August to November six to seven days a week.”
When Suggs began his coaching career, he dreamed of coaching at the college level, but over the years he’s realized he’s where he needs to be to have an impact on young people’s lives.
“Early on in my career I had visions of going to the collegiate level, but things have worked out well because I have the ability to have more of an impact at this level. I have the chance to groom these young men for life. That’s much more important then teaching them how to play the game of football.”
Suggs picked up another important factor from his high school coach, organizational skills. “That’s invaluable,” he said. “In this profession, you’ve got a lot of different things going on. It’s important to have things in order.”
When he’s not coaching, Suggs spends his free time with his wife Marva. He is a jazz enthusiast and relaxes by going fishing.
“When I can, I love to fish,” he said. “You never meet a stranger when you are fishing. You talk to one another. Someone told me once that for every hour you spend on the water, you gain a day back in your life.”
And when you are as busy as David Suggs is, that’s invaluable.
Coach of the Year: Coaching bug bit Suggs at an early age
By Mike Keeney