BY NOAH GRIFFITH
FOR THE OBSERVER
For Opelika High School coach Adam Massey, it all comes back to a singular verse he lives by.
“My life verse is Colossians 3:23, which is, ‘In everything you do, do it wholeheartedly, as for the Lord and not for men,’” Massey quoted.
From aiding in the National Guard with Hurricane Katrina cleanup, to fighting in the Army in Iraq, to teaching history and coaching tennis and football, it’s all a way to serve and make a difference for Massey.
So, although the call from the AHSAA caught him off guard, it is no surprise that Massey will be presented the 7A Making a Difference Award at the yearly banquet next month.
“When you get into education, you’re there to serve,” Massey said. “Any type of leadership position you’re in, you’re there as a servant leader, so to me this kind of award, man, it’s what we’re called to be in this line of work. You have a chance to be a blessing to kids that you have a chance to impact.”
At age 43, Massey has been in Opelika since he and his wife moved to the city in 2003. His wife has taught elementary school in Opelika for 21 years, and he has been around just as long with the exception of two years serving in Iraq in 2004-05.
Starting at Opelika Middle School, Massey coached a variety of sports at that level, including football, wrestling, golf and track. In 2010, he made the jump to the high school and coached linebackers until current head coach Eric Speakman promoted him to defensive coordinator — his current position along with being the head coach of the tennis team.
Massey is dedicated on the field, and is much the same off it. He stays involved in the lives of those around him by teaching ninth grade history, leading FCA with the students and a Bible study among the Opelika coaches, holding a Deacon position at First Baptist Church in Opelika, and loving his wife and two daughters, who are also lifers at Opelika.
“[When the AHSAA notified me about the award], they asked for a resumé, and I told him I didn’t have one because we’ve never looked at leaving,” Massey said. “Opelika has been incredible to my family. It’s always felt like a tight-knit community, and we’ve had some incredible leaders here.”
According to Massey, seeing the devastation in Vietnam and after hurricane Katrina in 2005 prepared him to serve at the local level.
2019, Massey and his wife heard about one of his wife’s former students who had their home destroyed in a house fire. The Masseys said they saw this, too, as an opportunity to serve, and they welcomed the student into their home.
“For guys like coach Massey, (their work is) a calling to them,” said Opelika Athletic Director Jamie Williams. “This isn’t a job; this isn’t a profession. It’s who they are and what God has called them to do. And that’s another reason why he handles situations the way he does — there’s a higher purpose. If you ask him, he doesn’t coach football or tennis, he coaches young people.”
Massey’s journey is motivated by his faith as a follower of Christ, he said, but it is also about following in his family’s footsteps.
As his deep south Alabama accent would tell you, Massey reigns from Leroy, Alabama, where he grew up watching his father coach and become the principal. Now, one of his brothers is the head coach at Leroy.
Coaching runs in the Massey family, but so does serving in the military. He joined two of his brothers in the National Guard right out of high school, where his father also served before his coaching days. His brothers also served alongside him in Iraq.
Football, military and faith all live in his lineage, and it’s all taught him the value of service.
“Personally, I think it’s about trying to honor the lives of the people that have poured into me,” Massey explained. “It all starts with, man, I was blessed to see my dad coach and teach and be an incredible mentor to the kids and younger coaches below him. My Uncle Ronnie was the same, so for those two guys they showed me how it should be done as a godly man. And from there, my wife and kids have come alongside and loved on these kids.”
For Massey, the Making a Difference Award is simply a recognition of him answering his calling, he said. He said his impact is just the result of him living wholeheartedly for the Lord, as it says in Colossians 3:23.
His dedication to his job and to the city of Opelika isn’t going unnoticed. He has garnered the respect of his fellow coaches as well as his players. That was made clear when running backs coach Ben Landers nominated Massey for the award.
“It’s humbling, you know, to be nominated,” Massey said. “I had no clue about it. It’s just what the good Lord has put me here to do.”