New AD Griffin leads DeKalb’s return to playoffs

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By Heather Russell Wilson

With the 2018 football season preparations in full swing, the DeKalb Bears have a new but familiar face at the helm.  Veteran coach Buddy Griffin is back at DeKalb for the second time in 20 years, having served as head coach for the Bears from 1993-97.
As Buddy Griffin says, he “grew up in the business.”  His father, Hal Griffin, coached for 40 years after an injury ended his career as a defensive halfback for the San Francisco 49ers.  Hal coached at all levels, from high school, to college, to professional as coach of the Saskatchewan Rough Riders.  Buddy’s story is similar, having played three years of high school football at Brazosport, then finishing up at Waco Midway.  It was at Midway that he met his high school sweetheart and future bride, Lesha.  After high school, Buddy went on to play college football at East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma.  With NFL and CFL opportunities on the horizon, Buddy too was the victim of a knee injury that ended his playing career.  But with one door closed, another soon opened, and Buddy began his long and successful coaching career.
Griffin, like his father before him, has coached in many different positions, and at many different levels.  From 2A schools to 6A schools, Buddy has had success with all of them.  A lot of this, he says, comes from a love of what he is doing.  “I have a passion for what I do,” says Griffin.  “I have always had a passion for the game.”  In his 38th year of coaching, 18 of those years as a head coach, Griffin has been all over the state of Texas, and has even retired - twice.  After his first retirement from Barbers Hill ISD in Mont Belvieu, Texas, Griffin and his wife moved back to DeKalb and built a home.  “DeKalb has always been a special place to both my wife and I and we just felt like it was home,” Griffin said.  Soon after, Griffin came out of retirement to coach at Arkansas High, but said the bigger school district was just not where he saw himself.  He was on a break from coaching in December of 2017 when he received a call from DeKalb ISD that there was a coaching position open.  The ink was barely dry on Griffin’s assistant coach contract when the Athletic Director position at DeKalb came open, and Griffin was officially named DISD Athletic Director in March of 2018.
Griffin says he is excited about his first full year as AD at DeKalb.  “The kids have been so focused thus far,” he said.  “They are doing everything we ask of them.”  An added bonus, he says, is coaching the children of students he coached back in the 90’s.  “There are a lot of familiar names and faces out there,” he said.  “Dooley, Starrett, Vaughn…..I coached several of these kids parents.”
Griffin is also excited about his coaching staff.  He is especially pleased to be coaching with his son, third generation coach and 14 year coaching veteran Brad Griffin.  With Brad now in DeKalb and their daughter Katie in the area also, Buddy and Lesha now have their entire family close by.
“I’m just glad to be here,” said Griffin.  “My experience in DeKalb has been a great one.  Just like in the 90’s, we have a great and supportive administration here, and that’s what it takes to build a great program.”
Griffin’s Bears kick off their regular season at home against Prairieland on Friday, August 31 at 7:30 p.m.5

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