Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School announced this week that Parkview grad Joe Sturdivant has been named its new head football coach.
The school said it completed a global search for the position, which is true for Sturdivant, who most recently was head coach of the Saarland Hurricanes in the professional German Football League.
“We are thrilled to welcome Coach Sturdivant and his family to the Rabun Gap community,” Rabun Gap head of school Jeff Miles said in a release. “Coach Sturdivant has proven himself as a highly successful and beloved coach at all levels. I know he is the right person to lead our program to a new elite level.”
Sturdivant returns to Georgia with a wealth of experience on the professional, collegiate, international and independent school levels. He won five combined state championships in baseball and football at Parkview, then played college football at his father’s alma mater, Southern Methodist. He racked up the tackles at SMU, finishing fourth in the nation in 2006 and 12th in 2005.
Sturdivant had a 19-6-1 record over two seasons leading the Saarland Hurricanes. His teams led the league in points per game (41.8), total offense (472.9), rushing per game (321) and pass efficiency (235.3) on their way to the GFL2 South Vice Championship.
Prior to his professional career, Sturdivant had successful coaching stints at two national high school powerhouse programs in Florida — IMG Academy and Trinity Catholic. He coached 53 players who went on to play in college, including more than 45 on Division I scholarships and six who played in the NFL.
As the head coach at Trinity Catholic, Coach Sturdivant led his team to win the Class AAA district championship and advanced to the state quarterfinals. His teams also led the campus with a 3.1 team GPA.
Sturdivant, along with Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke, started the football program at IMG Academy, where he served as the assistant head coach and defensive coordinator for the No. 17 team in the country. IMG had an overall record of 19-3 during his time there.
Sturdivant also coached the Belgian National Team and also has coached teams in Italy, Germany and Austria.
“My family and I are very excited about joining the Rabun Gap community,” Sturdivant said. “I believe Rabun Gap and I are the perfect fit. I have no doubt we will develop great young men into future leaders. The winning will take care of itself. We are going to focus on building top-notch student-athletes and preparing them for their future both on and off the field. I look forward to getting onto campus and joining our new family at Rabun Gap.”
In addition to coaching football, Sturdivant will serve as the assistant director of admission and will live on campus with his wife, Virginia, and his son, Bear. He has close family ties in nearby Clayton, as well as in Gwinnett and in Franklin, N.C.
“This is a very special moment for me, to be able to work and coach in the North Georgia mountains, where I grew up hunting and fishing, and where my wife and I got married,” Sturdivant said. “We have family right down the road in Tiger and in Franklin.”
Rabun Gap, founded in 1903, is an independent, co-educational boarding and day school with students from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade. Its enrollment of roughly 600 students includes around 350 students at the high school level.
Its athletic teams compete in the Carolinas Athletic Association, which features four other independent schools in western North Carolina and northeast Georgia — Asheville Christian, Asheville School, Carolina Day School and Christ School.
“Although Coach Sturdivant’s resumé is quite impressive by itself, during the interview, I was most impressed with his approach to building team culture, individual character and lifelong relationships,” Miles said. “His connection to the local area, along with his strong commitment to our mission, makes him the perfect fit for our community.”