By Akers Editorial
A willing role model
Richard Pettus makes a difference on and off the field.
Richard Pettus has been extremely busy during the past 17 years.
Winning football games.
Last season, the longtime head coach of The Villages High School led his team to a stellar 11-1 season that ended with a 43-41 loss to Dunnellon in the Class 4A regional final.
But in his dual roles of football coach and athletic director, he does much more than dream up innovative offensive schemes. He uses his influence to serve as a healthy role model to the school’s student-athletes.
“When it comes to health, I want to set a good example for both my players and coaches,” he says.
In the world of football coaching—with its testosterone-charged, winning-is-everything mentality—that comment is refreshing. For Richard, staying in shape is not only a responsibility, it’s also an opportunity.
As a wide receiver for Memphis State (now the University of Memphis) from 1985-1989, he knows skill alone doesn’t guarantee success.
“Skills are important, but so is staying in shape and living a healthy lifestyle,” he says. “Poor lifestyle choices can keep talented players from reaching their full potential.”
Richard practices what he preaches. On any given day, his duties as athletic director require him to hire coaches, schedule games, fill out paperwork, and manage facilities. So, during football season, he arrives at 4:30am and works out in the weight room conveniently located next to his office. Bench pressing, squats, and dumbbells are all part of his regimen.
“Exercising early in the morning makes me feel like I’m getting a head start on the day and boosts my energy levels,” he says.
Formerly an avid runner, Richard now enjoys walking with his wife, Judy. During spring and summer—when his schedule isn’t quite as demanding—they’ll walk two or three times a week.
“When I was a kid, I was a baseball catcher for 12 years, and (now) can feel a little bit of knee pain each morning,” he says. “That’s why I walk. However, I find walking to be just as beneficial as running.”
They’re also avid bicyclists. Two of their favorite riding destinations are the Santos-Belleview Trail and the Baseline Road Trailhead. “We’ve rode as far as 22 miles in a day,” he says.
However, lengthy rides go a long way in helping him to be an effective football coach.
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