BRADENTON, Fla. - The impact Elton Strawderman left on football players at Bradenton Christian School can be felt beyond the grid iron. He died in January after complications due to COVID-19 and pneumonia.
Now, his son Nate Strawderman is following in his footsteps as the newly hired offensive coordinator for Bradenton Christian School. It's the same role his dad held.
"Walking out first game here is going to be a really hard moment for me personally," Nate said. "It’ll be the first season I haven’t coached with my dad."
His dad was known as Coach E, and he touched countless lives throughout his coaching career. Elton played his part as the offensive coordinator, and helped Bradenton Christian's football team go undefeated during a regular season.
Nate was by his side as an assistant coach.
"Relationships with the kids were everything to him," Nate said. "They loved him because he loved them so much and that’s the kind of heart that I have for these kids too."
When Elton took a new coaching job with Sarasota High School, Nate followed, but Bradenton Christian remained close to their hearts.
Elton passed away in January at the age of 49. Shortly after his father's passing, Nate got an offer from Bradenton Christian's Head Coach Scott Paravicini, giving him the chance to fill his dad's former position.
"Anything that you needed from Coach E, you got from him," Paravicini said. "Nate is the same way. Our kids love him, everybody loves him, and we are excited to see him succeed."
Nate accepted the position with plans to honor his father's legacy.
"I want to be like him and walk in those footsteps," Nate said. "To be the offensive coordinator here and to leave an impact on these kids who my dad looked up to and who I look up to it’s more than a blessing."
Nate had coached alongside his dad since he was a sophomore in high school.
"He's in the same role that his dad was in and is able to do the same things and is able to impact people through his own way, but through the way that his dad raised him," said Paravicini.
Elton may not be here physically, but Nate knows he is with him always.
"I will be able to hear him. I know what he means and when we’re coaching together the things that he says I will be able to hear those things," Nate said. "Every game I walk out onto the field, even every practice, he's here."