There is a wide array of definitions for the word bishop, involving such things as religion, nature and alcohol. In Adairsville, though, the word is becoming synonymous with coaching.
For several years, the Tigers knew only one “Coach Bishop.” The moniker referred to Eric Bishop, and everyone knew that.
But last year, Eric’s daughter, Brooke, and son, Blaine, both started coaching at Adairsville. Now, his daughter-in-law Katherine Bishop has officially continued the legacy of her new last name.
Being part of the extremely unique situation had him emotional as Eric, who is entering his eighth year as the school's head football coach, reflected on the nearly three-decade journey to reach this point.
“It’s really rewarding for me,” he said, fighting back tears. “I sacrificed a lot when they were young. I did it, knowing I would get their high school years with me, never knowing that they would be back here doing this.”
Not only are there now four coach Bishops but, considering Eric and Blaine coach football and Brooke and Katherine coach cheer, all will be on the sidelines this fall for the Tigers.
Cue the confusion!
“We’ve got to come up with different names,” Katherine said with a laugh. “We can’t have four coach Bishops.”
After Blaine took a position on his father’s staff, he quickly became known as “Coach B.” Meanwhile, Brooke was just referred to by her first name last season, as she was working with several former teammates. This allows Katherine to become her team’s designated “Coach Bishop.”
That should eliminate most of the chaos.
“It’s crazy; I never would have thought that it would happen,” Brooke said. “It’s fun coaching with your whole family.”
Brooke is the youngest of this generation of Bishop coaches. She graduated from Adairsville in 2018, has spent the past two years at Georgia Highlands and will be starting in the fall at Kennesaw State, where she will pursue a degree in elementary education.
Dating back to her days as a Tigers cheerleader, Brooke had considered going into coaching. But even she didn’t think she would be earning experience during her college years.
“I knew all throughout cheering that I would someday want to come back — not necessarily here — and for sure coach,” Brooke said. “I wasn’t expecting it to be this early, but I’m glad it was. I can get a good start to it and get my foot in the door before I actually graduate college and get a teaching job.”
In a lot of ways, Brooke is following in the footsteps of her brother.
Blaine, likewise, pursued elementary education. The 2015 AHS grad currently teaches third grade at Adairsville Elementary, while coaching cornerbacks at the high school and assisting with baseball at the middle school.
Also like his sister, Blaine got started coaching during college. While attending Georgia Southern alongside Katherine, he led the baseball program at Portal Middle near Statesboro.
“I grew up in a field house and a dugout,” Blaine said, “so I basically knew since I was in middle school that I was going to be a football coach, a baseball coach and anything else they needed me to coach.”
Even still, Blaine didn’t know he would wind up working under his father. And he certainly wasn’t expecting to coach on Friday nights with his wife and his sister.
“We all kind of knew we wanted to coach, but we didn’t know how it all would work out,” Blaine said. “… When jobs opened up here, it kind of just all fell into place, and we were all going to be back on the sidelines again.”
Katherine, who also graduated from AHS in 2015, was a cheerleader at Georgia Southern, where she managed to graduate in three years. She currently serves as a seventh-grade math teacher at the middle school.
Blaine and Katherine weighed staying in the Statesboro area after graduation versus coming back to Bartow County. They both unequivocally believe they made the right choice.
“It’s taken me coming back in my new role as teacher and coach to really appreciate this community," Katherine said. "I’ve always been an independent person, and I never wanted to feel entitled to anything. That’s not what this community is about. It’s about always having people that have your back, looking out for you and will do anything for you. I think it took me coming back in a new role to really see that and appreciate that.”
Said Blaine, “It’s kind of cool that we went to school here, we competed here and now we’re giving back to the community that invested so much in us."
Eric knows Blaine and Katherine — who got married in April after roughly seven years of dating — may not spend the entirety of their careers in Adairsville. However, he has seen how much they enjoy being back on campus and coaching up the Tigers.
“This place means a lot to them, it really does,” Eric said. “I don’t know what paths they will take as they progress through their careers, but they know that they don’t owe us anything. They have their own lives to live. Wherever that takes them is fine and completely supported by us, but this community and this school are very important to them.”
Assuming Adairsville is able to produce a mostly standard football season this fall, which is not a given with COVID-19 hanging around, it will look a lot like 2014 for the Bishops.
That year was Eric’s second season as head coach of the Tigers. Blaine was a senior on a team that went 10-2, was ranked in the top 10 in Class 3A and reached the second round of the state playoffs. Freshman Brooke and senior Katherine, whose last name was Tatum at the time, were both on the cheerleading squad under current head coach Kaylie Noe.
Now, things have come full circle.
“It’s really strange,” Eric said. “We were all here together, when they were students coming through, and then they kind of go away and do their thing. Now, we’re all right back here kind of where we were four, five, six years ago, just in different roles.”
As someone who cherished getting to witness his children and his future daughter-in-law compete athletically at Adairsville, Eric contends that it doesn’t come close to the feeling he gets watching them coach.
“It’s really a proud moment as a parent when you watch your kids perform in high school sports,” he said. “Those times are really, really special. …
“Seeing them coach is much more satisfying and gratifying as a parent and a father-in-law than anything you get from watching them perform in football, cheerleading, soccer or whatever. For some reason, that just takes it to a whole other level when you see them in an influential mode, having an affect on young people.”
Despite not following the career paths of either of his parents, Eric shouldn’t be surprised that both of his children have opted to pursue education and coaching, as well as having one of them marry someone with an identical passion. Before moving into administration and working her way up to Cartersville Primary principal, Gina Bishop, who celebrated 25 years of marriage to Eric last weekend, served as a cheer coach.
It’s truly a family tradition.
As they are currently both working towards their master’s degrees, Blaine and Katherine would prefer to finish with school before even considering having children. But who knows, maybe the next generation of future Bishop coaches could be running around the Adairsville athletic facilities in a few years.
As Katherine joked, “It’s probably inevitable.”