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Fall is approaching and soon the kids will be back in school—the lazy days of summer replaced with classroom schedules and daily routines. Despite the lingering heat, the respite of fall promises to make its debut in the not too distant future. But in the South, we’re accustom to the sweltering heat and rely more heavily on the calendar to usher in fall than Mother Nature.

Perhaps one of the most anticipated rites of fall in the South is the return of college football.  In just a few short weeks, stadiums across the Deep South will be packed with loyal fans sporting school colors in every imaginable rendition, passionately cheering on their chosen teams. 

Growing up, my dad would load the family into our wood-paneled station wagon (complete with the IPTAY sticker) every fall and head north to his alma mater, everyone dressed in Clemson orange. Upon arrival, he was instantly transported back to his college days, serving as our personal tour guide while sharing stories of his Clemson glory days. Like most Southern men, my father awaits fall for one reason—football and his beloved Clemson Tigers. So it came as quite a shock when I, his oldest child, declared my allegiance to the Georgia Bulldogs. 

Not unlike my dad, there’s no better place on earth to me than between the hedges in Sanford Stadium on a fall Saturday with 93,000 of my “closest” friends cheering on the Bulldogs. And though I wasn’t a student at UGA when the legendary Vince Dooley was head coach, he was the university’s athletic director. A larger than life figure, his mere presence was iconic. 

I’ve had the opportunity to meet Coach Dooley several times during my career. He has always been gracious and unbelievably humble, despite his numerous accolades and legendary status. My husband, an Alabama boy and Roll Tide fan, will tell you that’s because he had the fortune to be born and raised in the great state of Alabama, a sentiment with which I disagree. Coach Dooley has spent most of his life in Athens as a Bulldog. For many, his name is synonymous with the University of Georgia. 

Sadly, I wasn’t able to accompany our editor and creative director to Athens to photograph Coach Dooley at his home for this issue’s feature, but I was there in spirit! I am honored that Coach Dooley granted us an interview so that we could share a piece of his story with our readers. Thanks Coach and Go Dawgs! 

-Ashlee

This article appears in the August-September 2015 issue of Augusta Magazine.