When asked about his favorite superhero, Johnson City native and new Fighting Scot Mike Rader responded, “Batman, but I could just be biased due to all the movies.”
Rader has recently taken on the head coaching position for the Maryville College football team. This move has brought him closer to home, as Rader has lived in the East Tennessee area for the majority of his life.
As an only child, he attended Happy Valley Elementary School and played football at Science Hill High School in Johnson City. From there, he went on to play at East Tennessee State University. It was in college that he figured out that he wanted to be a football coach.
Afterwards, he became a graduate assistant for ETSU and then moved to coach at Troy University, in Alabama. His next coaching job was at Huntingdon College, one of Maryville’s toughes GSACt conference opponents, who have also been in MC’s non-football conference since 1999.
So, what made Rader come back to his home state?
“It gets me back closer to my family, where I grew up,” he explained. “I really like the culture in East Tennessee. You don’t realize that until you leave, and then you come back and realize you took everything for granted.”
Rader’s family has always played a huge role in his life. When asked who his biggest mentor had been to this point, Rader replied: “I would have to say my family. I think all of them have really helped me at some point, in some way in this process.”
His wife is a physical education teacher, and the Maryville community can look forward to meeting her in the summer. The two met on a blind date in Montgomery, during Rader’s time at Huntingdon. His mother is living the retired life in Greeneville with his stepfather, who works in the textile industry and owns a self-storage company. Rader’s father lives in Sevierville and is the assistant principal at Pigeon Forge High School.
The new coach’s short-term goals for the Fighting Scots lead into his long-term goals for the program.
“I want to lay a foundation and do it the right way; to create an environment that breeds success, not only in football, but in academics, and a positive culture,” Rader said. “I want to have this program be able to develop. I want to have a program where guys, eventually, when they get into their communities, are productive citizens. I want to them to be proud of not only Maryville College, but Maryville College football, and want to bring their families back, and be involved.”
All in all, MC’s new football coach wants to create something that is lasting, and “not just a flash in the pan.” Speaking with Rader, even briefly, one can tell that he is intent on producing positive change, not only for the football program, but for the MC community as a whole. One thing is certain, next fall’s opening home game will be waited on with excitment and eager anticipation.