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20 Questions - Posted July 29, 2011 noon
photos by Jeff Harbin, Life of Riley Photography

Brad Thiessen

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Brad Thiessen has done it all in the sports world. He’s played, coached and now serves as Amarillo Independent School District’s athletic director.

“I don’t know if I was exactly ready to give up coaching,” Brad says, “But these opportunities come up when they do for a reason.”

Brad, 47, grew up in Follett, the furthest northeast town in Texas, where he played football, basketball, baseball and golf throughout high school. “You do it all in a small town,” Brad says.

He then went on to Grace College of the Bible in Omaha, Nebraska to pursue a degree in music. After one year, Brad transferred to Angelo State University and later Texas Tech University to complete his degree, but also to play football again.

After graduating from Texas Tech, Brad began coaching football in districts such as Class 1A Stratford, where he lived for 10 years. When the Amarillo High School football job opened in 2005 for the first time in 31 years, Brad had just completed his second year of coaching at Class 3A Levelland. Brad also served as the athletic director in Roby, Stratford and Levelland while coaching.

Brad returned to Amarillo to finish out his 20-year coaching run at AHS in 2006 as the second football coach since 1975. In 2009, Brad resigned to lead the athletic department for Amarillo ISD.

“This is home for me,” Brad declares. “I’m Panhandle home-grown.”

Brad says his role as Athletic Director is to take care of the smaller responsibilities, such as transportation and meals for the teams so coaches can concentrate on their teams.

“I love what I do,” Brad exclaims. “I never felt like I was going to work. When I was coaching I was always just getting ready for the next game. With this, I still get to interact with coaches and be around the athletic world.”

In addition to serving as Athletic Director, Brad sings in the gospel quartet, 4Given, and plays golf regularly. Brad and his wife, Tanya, have two daughters, Chelsei and Lyndsi.

Spotlight Q&A

My friends and family call me… Brady when I was a kid. My brothers called me Braddy Fatty. I think I am growing into that name.

The greatest piece of advice I’ve ever received is… I always remember my parents talking to us about work ethic and how important it is for people to be able to depend on you. Sometimes, especially in my position today, I really appreciate people who have been taught those same values.

My favorite bad-for-me-food is… no doubt: homemade ice cream.

My celebrity crush is… my wife, Tanya. We’ll just leave it at that.

I’m secretly addicted to the TV series… Tanya and I love two shows that started a couple of years ago, “Parenthood” and “Modern Family.” We DVR both and watch them every week. “Parenthood” is so real dealing with problems we all deal with and “Modern Family” is just funny.

If I had a time machine I would travel to… the future. Things are changing so fast with technology it would be interesting to see what the world will be like in say, another 50 years.

My go-to stress reliever is… being on the golf course to get outside. But probably the thing that I enjoy the most is singing with the quartet I have been with for the past 11 years. We don’t sing as often as we used to, but even though it can add stress of its own, it is totally different than what I have done for a career. The “more experienced” people that are usually in our audiences are always so appreciative of our songs – probably because they can’t hear very well anymore.

Right now, I’m listening to… on XM radio everyday I listen to “Enlighten” channel 18 which is gospel groups, mainly quartets. I’m a quartet junkie.

My favorite meal to make from scratch is… anything someone else makes. I will cook on the grill and sometimes make breakfast, but my girls will tell you it tastes better if someone else makes it.

In an alternate life, I would’ve been a… I tried like crazy when I first got to college at Omaha, NE to get a job in a recording studio. I always want to be a recording engineer. I was majoring in music at the time until I realized I missed the competition of football too much.

The most famous or interesting person I’ve ever met is… I’ve met coaches from all over the country. I shook hands with the older George Bush when he was first running for President. But the person I enjoyed meeting the most was Bill Gaither. Many may not really know who he is, but he probably has impacted gospel and church music more than anyone alive today. He was so easy to talk with and so interested in what I did for a living. He told me if he had another life he would come back as a coach. I really enjoyed the visit.

If I had an open plane ticket to anywhere, I would go to… I always wanted to travel to Europe. Maybe someday.

One of my favorite childhood toys was… my brother and I each bought motorcycles when we were growing up, Yamaha 125’s. They were great. I still ride mine every now and then when we go home to the parents’ house. I actually sold it to my Dad to pay for my wife’s engagement ring. (I have since bought her another one if you were wondering.)

My favorite most-quotable movie is… not necessarily a movie but I have always been a “Seinfeld” junkie. It’s a great show for one-liners.

You may be surprised to know that I… have been part of producing five CDs with 4Given, the quartet I sing with.

I know every word to the song… almost any song the Gaither Vocal Band (a gospel quartet with Bill Gaither) sings. Also, with my Dad being a pastor, I grew up singing out of the hymnbook. I still would rather sing those songs than many of the newer music. I was never one to remember the words from songs I heard on the radio. I listened to the music but never paid much attention to the lyrics of those types of songs.

My Facebook friend count is… I don’t have one. I will sometimes look on my wife’s and see what people and friends from high school are doing but I do not want to get into that.

by Kalani Gordon

A junior at UNT, Kalani is working toward a photojournalism degree. Kalani has been a Canyon resident for 18 years and in her spare time rock climbs and plays soccer.
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