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Out-of-Door Academy adds passing game guru

Nate Strawderman, 26, joins the Lakewood Ranch school after coaching at Bradenton Christian School.


Nate Strawderman (right) gives instructions to Bradenton Christian quarterback Caden Ott. Strawderman is going The Out-of-Door Academy football program as an associate head coach and passing game coordinator. He will also be an assistant athletic director at the school.
Nate Strawderman (right) gives instructions to Bradenton Christian quarterback Caden Ott. Strawderman is going The Out-of-Door Academy football program as an associate head coach and passing game coordinator. He will also be an assistant athletic director at the school.
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When Nate Strawderman thought about the things he wanted to accomplish in his career, the choice became clear. 

Strawderman, 26, had served as Head Coach of the Bradenton Christian School football team in 2023, leading the Panthers to a 7-2 record, with both losses coming to Westminster Academy (9-2). In January, Strawderman accepted an offensive coordinator position with Southeast High under its new Head Coach Curt Bradley, where Bradley, the former Braden River High Head Coach, will attempt to rebuild the downtrodden Seminoles program. 

But during the spring, Strawderman had a change of heart. After a talk with The Out-of-Door Academy Head Coach Rob Hollway, Strawderman decided his future would be better served with the Thunder. 

"This is something that can set me up for complete success," Strawderman said. 

Strawderman will be ODA's associate head coach as well as its passing game coordinator while current offensive coordinator Jim Bougor will stay in his role. As Hollway put it, Strawderman and Bougor will form a "superpower team" and combine ideas to create the team's offense. Beyond the football field, Strawderman will also become an assistant athletic director at ODA, giving him a chance to see the administrative side of high school sports.

Nate Strawderman is joining The Out-of-Door Academy football program as an associate head coach and passing game coordinator. He will also be an assistant athletic director at the school. Strawderman coaches a seven-on-seven team with ODA Head Coach Rob Hollway.
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While Strawderman gets to expand his horizons, ODA gets the passing game expert it has wanted. Though the Thunder have had a dominant run game since Hollway took over the program in 2022, Hollway has repeatedly mentioned wanting to become more "multiple" in order to beat teams of a higher caliber. 

Why does Hollway believe Strawderman is the guy? Because he has seen first-hand what his passing game schemes can do. The pair coach a 14U seven-on-seven football team together under the Nextlevelz brand, and Strawderman's Bradenton Christian team beat ODA 35-7 in 2023. 

Hollway has also seen how Strawderman approaches coaching from a philosophical perspective. 

"He is always positive," Hollway said. "I've seen how he interacts with kids. He brings a good energy all the time. He's a kid magnet. He's on my vibe in terms of way of life."

Though Strawderman will focus solely on the passing game at ODA, something Hollway likes about him is his ability to tailor his scheme to his players. Last season at Bradenton Christian, the Panthers ran the ball 208 times and threw the ball just 122 times, as that is what best fit the team's roster. But in 2020, when Strawderman was the team's offensive coordinator and the Panthers' quarterback was eighth grader Zander Smith — who is now a senior at Lakeland High with multiple NCAA Division I offers — Smith threw for 1,679 yards and 22 touchdowns in just seven games. 

Strawderman will have plenty of ways to get creative. His addition might mean more catches out of the backfield for Allen Clark, the tailback who ran for 1,104 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2023. It is also possible that the team's leading receiver in 2024 was not on the roster in 2023: Hollway has not been shy about recruiting athletes from the school's other sports to join the football team, with many of them becoming impact players. 

Strawderman will have plenty of work to do. ODA attempted just 85 passes last season and completed 36 of them for 494 yards, six touchdowns and 13 interceptions. 

He's excited to get started on the process. 

"Coach Jim (Bourgor) and I are creating something that will be hard to stop," Strawderman said. "We have some good guys coming back. I'm confident in what we will do." 

Strawderman's excitement extends beyond the 2023 season. While ODA is a small private school, the ambitions of the staff are lofty. Winning a Sunshine State Athletic Association Class 4A title in 2023 was exciting for the program, but no one is satisfied. The team has visions of doing things even more impressive, which includes matching up with teams in the Florida High School Athletic Association. 

"We used to play teams like (FHSAA Class 1S champion) Cardinal Mooney High," Strawderman said. "That is a long shot right now because of where we are in the SSAA, but I envision us going to play Cardinal Mooney one day. I think we can get the guys bought in. As Rob (Hollway) says, these guys are 'ride for the brand.' I've already found that out. We are going to build something special here." 

It is a continuation of what Hollway has done since he took over the program. ODA has sent three kids to the NCAA Division I level the last two years and could have three more in the program's next graduating class. Hollway took five players — Clark, rising seniors Marvin Palominos, Frankie Clark and Carson Fisher and rising junior Wiston Crisci — to an Ivy League mega camp in Oxford, Ohio, on June 7 to get them more exposure. 

In his mission to grow the program and help as many players as possible play at the next level, Hollway has already taken several steps. The hiring of Strawderman is a sign that the program is getting serious. 

Don't expect the Thunder's roll to slow down any time soon. 

"I'm just excited," Hollway said. "As my coach at the University of Wyoming (Joe Glenn) said, 'How do you eat? One bite at a time.' We are focused on getting better one day at a time." 

 

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Ryan Kohn

Ryan Kohn is the sports editor for Sarasota and East County and a Missouri School of Journalism graduate. He was born and raised in Olney, Maryland. His biggest inspirations are Wright Thompson and Alex Ovechkin. His strongest belief is that mint chip ice cream is unbeatable.

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