Meet Coach Gene Cathcart! Gene is the head coach for the Jefferson High School football team. Gene grew up in South Carolina, where he coached until 2015, when he moved to Jefferson to help coach the football team as the offensive coordinator. He was promoted to head coach in 2017.
Coach Cathcart currently has a 126-44 record in almost 14 years as a head football coach in Georgia and South Carolina. Coach Cathcart’s teams have averaged over nine-plus wins a year, and he had the highest current active winning percentage among South Carolina high school football coaches, during this time-span. His teams have made the state playoffs 11 of 14 years, and have a 17-8 overall playoff record, have amassed seven region championships, one state championship, two state runner-up finishes, three Final Four and six Elite Eight finishes. Fifteen of the high school quarterbacks he has coached have earned full college scholarships.
Coach Cathcart spends his day teaching AP Psychology at the high school. He is married to Jefferson High School Guidance Counselor Jamie Cathcart, and they reside in Jefferson. He is the proud father of a daughter, Abby, a student at Georgia College at Milledgeville, and a son, Reames, a freshman at Georgia State, and a step-daughter, Addision – a student at Jefferson Middle.
We want to thank Coach Cathcart for sitting down with JHS Students Drew Puckett and Vaughn Howington for an interview.
Q: What inspired you or led you to your current career?
A: “I was raised in a dysfunctional home, by two very good people, but both lost a battle to alcohol, and coaches always made a difference in my life. I lived with my high school coach while my mom was in treatment facilities. He and my junior high football coach were great influences in my life, and both still mean a lot to me to this day.”
Q: What is your favorite restaurant in Jackson County, and what do you love there?
A: “Wow. Probably Beef O’ Brady’s, and the OMG burger, or Gringos and the Nachos Texanos. That would probably be it.”
Q: What modern convenience would you want if you were stuck on a deserted island?
A: “A boat.”
Q: Who was your favorite teacher growing up?
A: “I always liked history, and had a really good middle school history teacher that made me want to be a social studies teacher because I was always a Civil War buff and a World War Two buff. He did a great job of always inspiring students and wanting us to learn more, and that’s why a couple years ago I really enjoyed going on the World War II trip with Mr. Pittard and the high school.”
Q: If you could pick any coach to help you on the field this season, who would it be?
A: “The ones I have. We’ve gone through a lot of adversity, and the players have stepped up all year through all our injuries, trials and tribulation. I’ve been really blessed to have the staff I have.”
Q: How long have you lived or worked in Jackson County?
A: “This is my second year as the head coach, and I was the offensive coordinator for two years prior to that.”
Q: Who is the most interesting person you’ve met in Jackson County and why?
A: “Jamie Cathcart, because I married her, she’s smokin’ hot, she’s a great mom, and a really good guidance counselor.”
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would it be and why?
A: “The way I’ve felt lately, probably to the Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth (in Saint Augustine) to make me feel younger, or somewhere where there’s some magical healing water to help all our players who are injured before tomorrow night’s game with Monroe Area.”
Q: What is the first movie you remember seeing in a theater?
A: “I remember going on a date in the 5th grade. She lived close to the movie theatre so I walked her home. We watched the ‘Amityville Horror.'”
Q: What advice would you give a crowd of people?
A: “I would first find out why they’re in a crowd. If they’re doing something wrong, I’d break up the crowd so they don’t get in trouble. If they’re doing something right, I would tell them to stay together, because there is strength in numbers.”
Q: What is something on your bucket list?
A: “I’ve always, for whatever reason, never traveled much. The Europe trip was the first time I’d really been anywhere out of the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida, so I’d like to see more of the country. I’d like to see the West Coast, New England.”
Q: What is your favorite music/ three bands you would like to see (dead or alive)?
A: “Zac Brown Band, Jimmy Buffett, and probably Kyle Clark because he’s the only rock star I’ve ever coached.”
Q: What local business makes you the most nostalgic about Jackson County and why?
A: “Anything on the square in Jefferson. The town square is really neat, and I used to live above Swirlees in an apartment when I first moved here, and everyone has always been really nice to me. Coach Gurley’s younger brother is my pharmacist, and my kids love to have Swirlees every time they come.”
Q: Choosing anyone (past or present and a non-relative), with whom would you love to have lunch? And where locally would you have this lunch?
A: “I would say my deceased parents. I didn’t know my dad very well, and I would like to meet him, or my kids because they’re in college, and I don’t see them as much as I’d like to. I would say we’d eat some ribs from Iron Pig.”
Q: What is your favorite thing about Jackson County?
A: “The people here, I get to teach and coach great people. It’s the best place I’ve ever lived or worked, it’s the place that feels most like home to me. Being raised in a dysfunctional home, I’ve never really had a desire to return to where I grew up. The people here make this place a very special place to live.”
Q: Where do you see yourself in five or 10 years?
A: “Hopefully standing right here, with the field painted, getting ready for a region championship game. Five years older, a little balder, more rotund than I am now, still happily married, still teaching AP Psychology, and still enjoying what I do.”
Q: What is something interesting that most people don’t know about you?
A: “Most people probably don’t realize that I teach an AP class, people don’t realize that I painted the artwork in my children’s nurseries, pastels and charcoal drawings of Winnie the Pooh and Disney characters in their nurseries, and I’m the only person alive, other than Peter Pan, that never has to grow up, that has a job that allows me to stay young around our student athletes.”
Q: What three words mean Home to you?
A: “Either ‘Jamie I’m home’ or ‘How was practice.’ We on our football team use love a lot, I try to tell guys how much they mean to me. These things combine to make this a special place.”
The Faces of Jackson County is a project to showcase the amazing people that live or work in our community. If you would like to nominate an interesting person to be featured please email email@example.com.