Nate Strawderman preparing for first season as BCS Panthers head football coach

WWSB ABC7 News at 11pm
Published: Aug. 10, 2023 at 12:40 AM EDT
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BRADENTON, Fla. (WWSB) - Nate Strawderman is preparing for his first year as the head man in charge for the Bradenton Christian School Panthers football program.

It’s his first time as a head coach on any level.

“I think we’re smooth rolling right now,” Strawderman said. “I definitely think that we’re ahead of where we need and where we want to be.”

For Strawderman, he knows he has big shoes to fill.

But they aren’t of his direct predecessor at BCS. Instead they’re the ones of his father.

Elton Strawderman, better known as Coach E, is known as a football coaching legend on the Suncoast, especially for his years at Sarasota High School, a staff that Nate even had the chance to be apart of.

However, sadly, in early 2022, Elton passed away after he lost his battle with COVID-19.

“I’ll never forget the day I walked into the ICU,” Strawderman said. “That was my life at that point. I just fell to my knees and the realization that my dad, he’s longer here. I really always knew that my dad had an impact on kids and athletes. It never hit me until after he passed away.”

Nate misses his father everyday but Elton’s memory remains alive through his son and others on Nate’s coaching staff who also played for Coach E.

“Coach E is the one who honestly made me believe in myself,” said Ashton Lucas, the BCS wide receivers coach. “Made me believe that I can be where I am now today. He was a mentor, a coach, a father figure. He was just everything in one.”

“Him and my dad were good friends, and he really helped me elevate my game as a quarterback,” said Zachary Hammond, the BCS defensive coordinator. “I owe a lot to him in terms of footwork and what I was able to do in my football career in the area and to be able to go play at the next level. I mean I learned so much from Coach E.”

Nate says he knows he never be able to fill void left behind from his father, but he looks forward to building his own personal legacy.