Twelve years ago, people thought Scott Nady was crazy.
Why would he leave a northern California football program that he built into a powerhouse for a school in Dallas that didn’t even have a practice field?
But Nady doesn’t often take the conventional road, so he moved from San Leandro High School in suburban Oakland to start a team from scratch at Parish Episcopal.
“I took the job sight unseen. I hadn’t even seen the Midway campus,” Nady said. “Parish did not own a football or a helmet.”
In the dozen years since, Nady hasn’t regretted his leap of faith, having become the architect of a program at Parish that has his own unique stamp of success.
The move allowed Nady to move back to his hometown, just a few miles from where he grew up on Willow Lane in Preston Hollow and became a standout at W.T. White in the late 1980s.
He earned a scholarship to the University of California, where he played in three bowl games in his four seasons. Nady stayed in the Bay Area to begin his coaching career, eventually landing the head job in a rough neighborhood at a downtrodden San Leandro program.
During his final four years there, San Leandro posted a combined 48-4 record. Nady was ready for his next challenge.
“Once we had built it, it stopped being as fun,” he said. “We had taken that program as far as we could take it.”
When he started at Parish in 2003, Nady was practicing with middle-school players on a narrow patch of grass that didn’t have any lines.
“We started running plays on it horizontally, so we didn’t have any play that was more than 17 yards long,” he joked.
The Panthers went 2-8 in their first varsity season in 2006, but four years later, they won a TAPPS state title, something that had never been accomplished in such a short timeframe. Parish has been to the playoffs every year since.
Those results might speak for themselves, but Nady doesn’t necessarily view success in terms of wins and losses. He sees football as a vehicle for teaching life lessons.
“We probably talk 80 percent life and 20 percent football,” he said of his dealings with players. “I don’t know if I’m a successful coach until 10 years after graduation.”
Nady has his share of eccentricities. He can usually be found barefoot at practice, where he plays music and doesn’t use a whistle. He also doesn’t yell at players.
“The volume of your voice does not improve clarity,” he said. “If given the choice, why not have fun?”
The current Parish team has a handful of players that are being recruited by top college programs, just like his rosters of inner-city kids in California. While there might be some socioeconomic differences, there are plenty of similiarities, too.
“A lot of my boys in California saw football as a way out. A lot of my boys in Dallas see it as something they love to do, but it’s not always a linchpin to their success,” Nady said. “It doesn’t matter if they live in a mansion or live in the projects. If you love kids, they’ll love you back. And if you respect kids, they’ll respect you back. My kids have played insanely hard for me. I want every Friday night for my boys to be special. My biggest fear on a Friday night is disappointing them.”