BRADEN RIVER — Don Purvis felt a connection to Braden River well before the school was even built.
While serving as an assistant football coach at Bayshore in 2003, Purvis met Braden River Athletic Director Bob Bowling. The two attended the same church, and when Purvis and his wife moved to Memphis in 2004, he kept in touch with Bowling and some of the other coaches and administrators he had met while living in Bradenton.
It was through those communications that Purvis learned of the plight the Pirates had been through over the past year. Purvis felt drawn to the situation; and when the head coaching position opened up in mid-January, he knew he had to apply.
“I was really sympathetic to the situations that have happened to those kids over last few years,” Purvis said. “It really struck a chord with me, and I felt like I could help in some way and maybe help those kids.”
Braden River named Purvis as its new head coach March 4. He becomes the program’s third coach in its fourth season of varsity football.
Bowling, Braden River Principal Jim Pauley and the school’s selection committee, designated to narrow down the list of 98 applicants, were impressed with Purvis’ character and long-term desire to develop and grow both the players and the program.
“The thing that really stuck out with us was his high moral character,” Bowling said. “He’s a great man of faith, and he exhibits that in the way he carries and conducts himself.
“We’re just really excited to have him,” he said. “I think he’s going to be a breath of fresh air for us. I think the kids are looking forward to having someone here on campus.”
A native of New Orleans, Purvis moved to Florida in 1989. He played wide receiver at Pine Crest High School in Ft. Lauderdale before going on to play at Rhodes College in Memphis.
Purvis graduated in 1997 with a degree in political science. He then went on to play football in Germany for two years in the former European Football League. Following his playing career, Purvis worked for Mississippi Hockey LLC before moving to Bradenton in 2003.
He spent a year serving as the defensive line coach for Bayshore under Raymond Woodie when the Bruins finished 10-2 and won the district championship and advanced to the second round of the playoffs.
In 2004, Purvis and his wife of seven years, Leah, whom he met in college, moved to Memphis.
He began coaching at First Assembly Christian School, serving as the program’s offensive coordinator for three years before assuming the head coaching duties in 2007.
During his time at First Assembly, Purvis spent much of his time focusing on preparing his players for the future by getting them involved in the community. Purvis was instrumental in the Crusaders’ partnership with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital through which the team raised more than $20,000. The team also spent time going to local hospitals to talk to kids and working with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, among other community service projects.
Now, Purvis is hoping to bring those same ideals to his new position at Braden River.
“We’ve got to make it more than just football because that stuff lasts forever,” Purvis said. “Ten years from now, no one is going to remember who won what game. I think the biggest thing is putting the kids first and working on their character and making them better men — rather than just worrying about football and nothing else.
“Football (teaches) accountability,” he said. “Most things today are very self-centered, self-supporting and self-serving, but when you’re on a team, you’re accountable for your actions. That’s one of the best things to teach young men, which will (ultimately) help them become better husbands and better fathers one day.”
Purvis, who also will teach at Braden River, will be on campus beginning April 5. Spring practice is scheduled to begin May 3.
Contact Jen Blanco at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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