A conversation with former Carolina Panther and new Union Academy coach Brad Hoover

For nine seasons, former Carolina Panther Brad Hoover was a fan favorite while opening up running lanes as a fullback. Now, he’s Union Academy’s newest head football coach. Union County
Weekly recently sat down with Hoover, a Weddington resident,  to see what he has in store for the
Cardinals football program.

Former Carolina Panthers fullback Brad Hoover, who resides in Weddington, recently was hired as Union Academy’s head football coach.

Q: What is your first step?
A: I’ve got to get in and get to know these kids, and they have to know that I care. That’s first and foremost. After that, (it’s about)
going back and talking to the coaches that were here last year, (finding out) who wants to stay and who doesn’t and kind of filling things in from there. (It’s also) setting the schedule, meeting with
them to let them know my
expectations, my priorities and how I expect it to be run. Just to give them the perspective of knowing where I come from and setting the precedent of what’s acceptable and what’s not acceptable. Letting them know up front instead
of later.
Q: You spent a few years in the business world after retiring from football. Deep down, was it always going to come back to football, or was it more of a revelation?
A: It was a little of both, to be honest with you. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I didn’t try to distance myself initially just because I had been involved in football my whole life. I was just trying to
find something I was passionate about.
I knew deep down inside that I wanted to (teach and coach), but I think until I pushed the envelope (and asked myself), “Is this what I’m meant to do? Is this what I’m going to enjoy?” I figured out that
(coaching) is something I need to
pursue.

Q: How was your high school playing experience in your hometown, Thomasville?
A: I played at a little high school called Ledford. And honestly, my high school coach is still a good friend of mine to this day. He’s really a big part of my life and taught me a lot of things. Honestly, that’s one of the biggest things that pushed me to pursue coaching because of him and other administrators that made a huge impact on my life.
Q: Why Union Academy?
A: When I started looking, I guess I was looking for the place that fit me. When I first talked to (school administrators) on the phone and came in for my interview, everything I believed in and what I was looking for was right here. I knew I had a lot of work ahead of me, but that was sort of the challenge and the motivating factor to accept. I don’t believe in anything being handed to me, so I want to work for it and I want to teach these guys that that’s how good things happen, when you do work for it and you sacrifice for it.

Q: How did you settle in Union County?
A: We built a house out here about eight years ago, and mainly it was to get out of Charlotte-Mecklenburg. I’ve got two little girls, so the schools were the motivating factor. Schools and taxes, I think, are why most people move to Union County. I’ve enjoyed it. I grew up in a very rural environment where I was from, so I was trying to get as close as I could within the parameters of what we
needed to have access to. I fell in love with it.

Q: You were a really good running back in your own right when given the chance. Do you think that will make you take a longer look at a kid to realize what he can do?
A: I think so. People have always doubted me in some way or another at every level. I took it as a chance for me to show they were wrong and prove myself. The good thing for these kids is I come in unbiased. I hadn’t seen tape on these guys yet, I’ve met with very few of them, so I don’t know what they can do on the field or off the field. I come in on a clean slate.
I’m not here to make a pecking order. I’ll find that, and they’ll prove themselves to me through this process. I’m willing to look at guys any and everywhere. I’m looking at it from a skill-set standpoint. I’m not saying they’re going to agree with me, but ultimately, I’m trying to make the decisions for what this team needs. It doesn’t always equal out to what the player wants.

Q: What’s your biggest source of experience with coaching?
A: Naturally, it would be from coaches throughout my career. From a football standpoint, I’ve got so much experience to share with these kids. My philosophies and how I’ve learned have been through my coaches. A lot have been good, and some have been bad, and what worked for me might not work for someone else. A lot of those influences are going to be my driving factor behind how I do things and how I want to approach things.
I ran my own football camp for eight years and then went back and worked a year after I left football. That’s when it really sunk in. I got to see those kids grow up that I had started with nine years before then and how much of an impact it was having on them, the teachings and the philosophies.

Q: What’s the one thing from your pro career you think will help the most?
A: Experience is probably the one thing, but the accountability and the organization part of it. I’m very detail-oriented to that point, from breaking things down and seeing multiple avenues of things because it’s been engrained in me from a business side.

Q: Do you still get the “HOOOOVE!” chant?
A: Yeah, occasionally. It was something I embraced when I played that the fans embraced me that way. It was awesome. I’ll see people every now and then, and they’ll shout a little bit, and I still appreciate it. I was always a player that appreciated the fans. The fans are what drove our business anyway. Without them, I wouldn’t have been playing football.  Wouldn’t have had a paycheck. That’s always been good.
It was awesome. It gave me goose bumps every time.

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