Not much is going on in the sports world due to COVID-19, but that didn’t stop Social Circle from making a splash with its newest football hire.
The school announced Monday it had hired Collins Hill head wrestling coach Nate Ethridge as the defensive coordinator for the Redskins’ football team.
“I think it will feel a little more like home,” Ethridge said. “I coached for 18 years at a small school in Michigan. The community I worked in was very similar to Social Circle and that’s what kind of drew me to Social Circle. Collins Hill was a great place to work, but I just don’t know if it fit me in terms of size.”
Ethridge made his mark in the wrestling world through a highly successful tenure as the head coach at Chippewa Hills in Michigan where he won over 500 matches while at the helm of the program. However, Ethridge also served as the Warriors’ defensive coordinator during his 18-year stint at the school. In 2009 Ethridge was named the Michigan Football Association Assistant Coach of the Year. Ethridge most recently served as the ninth grade head football coach at Collins Hill.
“I’ve always thought there’s a very positive relationship between football and wrestling,” Ethridge said. “People think of me as a wrestling guy since I’ve coached wrestling so much, but I’ve coached football just as long in a variety of different roles.”
Ethridge made his way to Collins Hill in 2018 to take over the Eagles’ storied wrestling program. One of the draws to Collins Hill was also the ability to keep coaching football, which is where Ethridge and new Social Circle head football coach Rob Patton joined forces.
“I’m not going to lie, there’s not a whole lot of people I would follow somewhere,” Ethridge said. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for Rob Patton. He is a workhorse and above all he’s a great human being. I have a freshman son and I’m more than excited to have (Patton) lead a program that my own child will be in.”
Patton is equally happy to have Ethridge come aboard at Social Circle.
“Nate is a winner. Heck, he wins at everything he does,” Patton said. “He already knows our scheme on defense. Great guy, great teacher, great coach and he’s going to make us better. He knows the expectations and the kids are going to love him.”
In addition to his duties as defensive coordinator, Ethridge will serve as an assistant coach for the Social Circle wrestling team. Social Circle wrestles annually at the Grayson Frida Duals, where the Redskins have battled with Collins Hill over the past two seasons. Those duals led to Ethridge and Redskins head coach Randy Prater developing a great respect for one another.
“From the time we met, we really hit it off and realized we had a lot of the same philosophies and had a lot in common” Prater said. “I think one of the biggest things we have in common is that neither of us have a big ego. I think it’s going to be a really good thing with us working together. I’ll be real honest, I think he may be better than me.”
Ethridge believe strongly in wrestlers playing football and vice versa. He believes the success of Social Circle’s wrestling program should help with establishing a winning culture for the football program.
“One of the first coaching friendships I made when I got here to Georgia was with coach Prater,” Ethridge said. “The community I came from in Michigan had a very strong football/wrestling connection. So I truly believe in a place like Social Circle you really have to work collaboratively amongst each program with the number of kids we have.”
Over the course of Ethridge’s wrestling coaching career he has compiled a 561-99 record, has been named the Michigan Wrestling Association Regional Coach of the Year 12 times, MWA State Coach of the Year in 2010, NWCA State Coach of the Year in 2017 and Gwinnett County Wrestling Coach of the Year in 2019 and 2020.
Under Ethridge’s leadership, Collins Hill’s wrestling team won Gwinnett County, Region 6-AAAAAAA duals and traditional titles this year, along with runner-up finishes at the state duals and traditional championships.