By MICHAEL ALEXANDER, Staff photographer | Published August 19, 2016
ATLANTA—In April, Shawn Coury was introduced as the new head football coach at Holy Spirit Prep School. He succeeded David Rosenzweig, who led the team to a 9-12 record over two seasons, while also serving as the upper school assistant principal and social sciences department chair.
“We appreciate everything he (Rosenzweig) has done for the program,” said Holy Spirit Athletic Director Kevin Evans.
The 40-year-old Coury and his wife, Kelly, have been married for 13 years. They have a 10-year-old son, Luke, and two daughters, Lexi, 8, and Libby Kate, 5. The family has been attending St. Brendan the Navigator Church, Cumming, but after moving recently to be closer to his job, soon they will be parishioners of Holy Spirit Church, Atlanta.
Coury grew up in Alpharetta where he attended Milton High School. After graduation he went to Valdosta State University for an undergraduate degree in secondary education and later to graduate school at the University of Missouri. Coury likes to follow “Mizzou” football, but he married into an Auburn family, so there is a competition between Tiger mascots in their household.
He has been teaching and coaching in North Georgia since 1997, including at Cherokee High School, South Forsyth High School, Pinecrest Academy, Cumming, and West Forsyth High School.
Just before the team headed off to a three-day football camp at LaGrange College, Coury took some questions from The Georgia Bulletin. Holy Spirit opened against Flint River Academy of Woodbury Aug. 12.
GB: Where were you coaching before you came to Holy Spirit Preparatory and were you a head coach, assistant coach or position coach?
Coury: West Forsyth High School in Cumming. I served as the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach, as well as the strength and conditioning coordinator.
GB: What is your personal coaching philosophy?
Coury: I believe that football is a tool that we can use to build strong men. As coaches we have the responsibility of teaching the game, but we are also called to be good examples as leaders, followers, husbands, fathers, etc. It is the latter that holds a special place in my heart. To teach young men how to live lives worthy of heaven … and pray that they do the same with others in their life.
GB: Based on your early assessment of this year’s roster and players, what will it require to get the team to a winning record this season?
Coury: They put together a 5-6 season last year and made the playoffs. They made solid progress last year. We will build on that. The boys had a great summer. They put in a great deal of work and always came hungry to learn. I believe the boys are ready for a great year. We have to grow together as a team and execute on the field.
GB: Who are the coaches you admire and why?
Coury: There are quite a few at many levels. At the high school level I would say Frank Hepler (Forsyth Central High School head coach) for the way he leads his coaching staff; Adam Clack, (West Forsyth High School head coach) for his pursuit of excellence and relentless effort to improve himself and his team; also retired high school coach Bob Ladouceur, whom I don’t know personally, but I know his story, and I admired his commitment to building young men. (Ladouceur coached at Concord, Calif., Catholic high school De La Salle for 34 seasons. At one point during his career he led his team to 151 consecutive wins. When he retired in 2013 he had 399 wins, the most in California high school history. Actor Jim Caviezel portrayed the coach in a 2014 movie entitled “When the Game Stands Tall.”)
At the college and professional level, I would say Mark Richt (former UGA head coach, now at Miami University) and Tony Dungy (NFL Hall of Fame coach in Tampa Bay and Indianapolis), respectively, for their steady Christian witness no matter the circumstances.
GB: Did you play football in high school and college? If so, where and what position did you play?
Coury: I played in both high school and college. I was a receiver. I never stood out or anything like that. I just loved the game and the team. I feel like those moments helped to prep me for this career.
GB: Who is your favorite professional team when it comes to football and any other sport of your choice?
Coury: I am a die-hard Miami Dolphins fan, no matter how bad it gets or how much I dislike the new logo. I am still loyal. I also like the Miami Heat, the Florida Panthers (hockey), and the Chicago Cubs. But my sporting love (outside of football, of course) is NASCAR. I grew up a huge fan of Jeff Burton and now I follow Chase Elliott.
GB: What is your favorite sports movie?
Coury: Wow … that is tough to answer. There are so many. “Rudy,” I guess. I like just about all of them. “McFarland,” “Remember the Titans,” “When the Game Stands Tall,” “Radio,” “Gridiron Gang.” The list goes on. Even “Days of Thunder” makes the cut. There are so many great lessons that come from sports stories.
GB: What type of music do you like and who are some of your favorite artists?
Coury: I like many types, but country is probably at the top with George Strait and Lady Antebellum topping that list. I also like ‘70s and ‘80s music. My favorite artist is Billy Joel. These days I am a talk radio guy. It comes with age, I guess.