By MICHAEL ALEXANDER, Staff Photographer | Published October 5, 2006
Bryan Pinabell is the new head football coach at Our Lady of Mercy High School, Fairburn. Pinabell, 35, came over from St. Pius X High School, Atlanta, where he served as the assistant defensive coordinator. He inherited a Mercy football program that was 0-10 in 2005 and 1-9 in 2004. Pinabell is a coach who exudes enthusiasm and optimism and it is spreading to the Our Lady of Mercy team. Our Lady of Mercy defeated Towns County 12-8, Sept. 22, its first win since Oct. 29 of the 2004 season. Pinabell has been married to his wife Andrea for three years and they attend the Cathedral of Christ the King, Atlanta.
GB: I read where you were born in Boston. Are you Catholic and where did you attend high school?
Pinabell: Yes, I am Catholic and I attended Catholic school my whole life until college. I moved from Boston to Melbourne, Fla., in my freshman year of high school and I attended Melbourne Central Catholic High School.
GB: I also heard your favorite teams are the Boston Red Sox and the New England Patriots. What about the Boston Celtics?
Pinabell: I also like the Celtics, but since the NBA has changed so much over the past 20 years I am not as big a fan of NBA ball, but I still follow the Celtics. The Red Sox are without a doubt my true fan passion. My dad took me to see them play when I was 4 years old and I have been in love with them since.
GB: Who are your favorite athletes on the Boston Red Sox and the New England Patriots?
Pinabell: My favorite Sox player is Jason Varitek because he is always prepared and he plays hard each and every day. For the Pats it is Tedy Bruschi for the same passion he brings to the field.
GB: Did you play football in high school and at your college alma mater, the University of Central Florida, Orlando?
Pinabell: Yes, I played football all four years of high school. I was a guard and middle linebacker. In college I actually played baseball and I was the catcher.
GB: Are there any special moments or stories you can share about your playing days?
Pinabell: As a senior in high school we made a huge turnaround and had the first winning season that Melbourne Central Catholic had had in six years. It was great to be a part of that. I also finished in the top 10 for tackles in the county in my senior year and I was second team All County.
GB: Football is huge in Florida. What was it like coaching down there?
Pinabell: It was great, but it was also challenging because there were so many great athletes we played against. Overall, I will say the coaching here in Georgia is much better. Each week the teams we play are very well coached.
GB: Are there any coaches who you’ve looked up to over the years?
Pinabell: My coaching heroes are Paul Standard, Vince Lombardi, Joe Paterno and Bill Cowher.
GB: Before your head-coaching job at Our Lady of Mercy it looks like you primarily coached the defensive side of the ball. Will you still have a hand in the defense even though you’re now the head coach?
Pinabell: I actually started out as an offensive line coach for the first six years of my coaching career, so I am very familiar with offense. In addition to head coach, I am the defensive coordinator at Our Lady of Mercy for now, and it is much more difficult than just being an assistant.
GB: How did you get from Melbourne Central Catholic to St. Pius X to Our Lady of Mercy?
Pinabell: At 30 I decided that there was more to life than just being at my hometown school. Having grown up in the city I wanted to get back to that atmosphere, so I decided to move to Atlanta. I had visited many times and one of my good high school friends lived here. I love it here. I got to St. Pius X after having spent one year at North Gwinnett HS. I believe in Catholic education and missed it very much. St. Pius X head football coach Paul Standard, who I owe much of my professional life to, hired me and those five years at Pius were the best of my life. I made and still have many good friends there.
GB: Mercy’s program has struggled over the last few years. What do you hope to bring to the program that’s been missing? How do you hope to make a difference?
Pinabell: Pride and stability! I want to make a difference not only on the scoreboard, but also in the futures of these young men by teaching the values of football and incorporating them into lessons, which can make them men.
GB: It must have been a wild scene at Our Lady of Mercy last Friday following the team’s victory over Towns County. It was the team’s first win in nearly two years and your first victory as the team’s head coach. How big was the win and what did it mean for the OLM football program?
Pinabell: It was an exciting evening for the school. I was very happy for our kids who have done everything we have asked them to do to this point. It was certainly a good building block, but I also caution it was just one very small step. To build this in the image of a St. Pius X will take three to five years and lots of small steps.
GB: I understand you don’t have children yet. How many children do you and your wife want, the equivalent of a starting football, baseball, or basketball team line-up?
Pinabell: I’d love to have a whole football team. We need to start working on that soon. On a serious note I would love to have two linebackers!