Photo courtesy Craig Hall, Heavener Ledger
As the 2021 high school sports season concludes another exciting chapter of competition, the scorebook closes on the 32-year coaching career of Andy Perdue taking with it a lifetime of memories.
Growing up in Heavener, Perdue knew from his childhood that coaching would be his future.
“I knew from the day I was born that I was going to coach. My dad (Ralph) was a head football coach and baseball coach and I grew up in the locker rooms or hanging around the dugout learning things that helped me become a better player when I was in high school and played football for coach Robert Swinford and baseball for Danny Edwards, who played baseball for my dad,” Perdue recalled in a voice of passion and emotion. “I did my intern teaching under (Jerry) Johnston who I later worked for here at Poteau who did his interning under my dad at Heavener. Small world.”
After playing junior college baseball at Carl Albert and graduating from Northeastern State University, Perdue entered the coaching fraternity at Prosper Texas before returning home almost 10 years later to begin a 21-year journey with the Poteau Pirates coaching football and baseball.
On the gridiron, Perdue’s influence helped the Pirates to nine state semi-final appearances plus two state finals contests including winning the 2019 Class 4A state championship. In baseball, Perdue began in 2003 as an assistant with Ronnie Sockey where the dynamic duo won 192 games, five LeFlore County championships, eight district titles including a trip to the 2006 state tournament. Since stepping to the top step of the Pirates dugout in 2006 as head coach, Perdue’s teams have totaled 195 wins that include claiming four LCT titles while winning numerous district and regional crowns plus five consecutive trips to the state tournament. Or as Perdue calls it, making it to “the Show” in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and the just concluded 2021 campaign.
“This year should’ve been six straight because we were loaded last year (2020) but nobody could be beat Covid.”
Coaching has been an opportunity that Perdue says was the fulfillment of his love and passion for sports.
“Football was my love and baseball was my passion. A lot of the credit for my success is due to the many coaches I had and how they influenced me and got the opportunity to change the lives of their players for the better and that’s what I’ve always tried to do,” replied Perdue. “I’ve got to credit the head coaches and assistants I’ve worked for and with over my career. And most importantly, it’s been the kids I’ve coached and their commitment to success that have made it so rewarding. I just hope I played a small part in making their lives better on and off the field by doing things the right way in order that good things happen to you.”
The final game for Perdue will be this summer coaching the Middle East squad in the Oklahoma All-State baseball games including one of his own players, Jagger Dill. So what’s next for veteran mentor?
“I’m going to play a lot of golf, try to keep it in the fairway,” Perdue chuckled. “I might be a greeter at Wal-Mart or maybe become a referee or umpire in football or baseball. And for sure, I’ll still keep watching my Pirates.”
As he rounds third and heads for home, Andy Perdue without question has lived the motto of the Poteau Pirates with an “all-in” commitment 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year. Enjoy today and tomorrow coach because you’ve hit a grand slam homerun and made Poteau a better place by your example of love and passion for everyone.