BY NOAH GRIFFITH
FOR THE OBSERVER
SMITHS STATION —
When Glenwood basketball coach Dusty Perdue drives up to Lanett, Alabama, for the Region Tournament on Thursday, he won’t have one team with him — he’ll have two.
He will have two game plans, stand for two tipoffs and he’ll be the loudest voice in the gym for two games each day — and that’s not a hot take. He might sit down, maybe even cross his arms and fold his legs, but it won’t last for more than a few moments before he’s marching up and down the sideline, clapping and shouting orders for his team to execute.
Perdue coached boys basketball for 12 seasons before additionally taking the role as the girls head coach in 2020, but that’s only a fraction of what he has been for Glenwood in his 18 years at the private school on Summerville Road in Phenix City, Alabama.
“Coach Perdue has always gone above and beyond what’s expected,” said Glenwood Athletic Director Tim Fanning. “He has coached multiple sports, led FCA, announced for our football games and given a large majority of his life to this school, our kids and this athletic department. We are blessed to have such a committed man, willing to lead young men and women in the Glenwood family.”
Perdue currently leads seven teams at Glenwood: middle school, junior varsity and varsity boys and girls basketball teams, plus the tennis team — both sports he played at Shaw High School back in his days in Columbus, Georgia. In fact, he took his quick step and his racket to Abraham Baldwin College and then Florida State University, but that was the end of his playing days.
“[Out of college], I worked at Pepsi Cola for 10 years moving drinks,” Perdue reminisced. “That’s not an old man’s job, that’s a young man’s Ajob. It’ll wear your back out in a heartbeat.”
With his playing days squarely in the past, after 10 years of back-breaking labor at Pepsi, Perdue decided he wanted to pursue coaching.
He said he believes that’s what God made him for.
A public school boy from Georgia, Perdue branched out and started his coaching career as a girls basketball and softball coach at Calvary Christian School in Columbus. Then, in 2005, Perdue crossed the river and ventured into Alabama for the first time.
“(Glenwood’s) coach Doug Key called me and said, ‘Hey, I’m looking for an assistant coach for this year. You interested?’” Perdue recalled. “Well, when I got over there, he didn’t tell me that he was giving up the job the next year. So, he was bringing me over to get me ready for the head job, and I can’t thank him enough.”
In athletics, Perdue’s current roles as basketball and tennis coach are just a few items on his long resume. He started the volleyball program at Glenwood and coached softball for 15 years, in addition to boys hoops, and has 12 varsity State Championships to show for it ¬— seven in softball, three in boys basketball and two in as many seasons of girls basketball.
He has consistently set the standard of a championship at Glenwood and was recognized for it in January of this year. Perdue was presented last month with an award for 500 career wins as a varsity head coach, which covers his time at Calvary, Glenwood and Chattahoochee Valley Community College (CVCC) with boys and girls basketball.
“When you say private school basketball in the state of Alabama, people talk about Glenwood, and that means you’ve done the right thing,” Perdue said.
The Glenwood girls basketball team is the two-time defending state champion, and the boys last won it all in 2017. Perdue said with certainty that the Gators are looking to repeat — “always.”
Temporarily, Perdue did experiment at the college level, but he says it’s “an itch that has been scratched.”
From 2009-11, Perdue made a stop at CVCC — about 10 minutes from Glenwood in Phenix City. But Perdue soon found out he’s built to be in high school.
Perdue is also a family man, which is why being on the road constantly with the low salary of a junior college (JUCO) coach didn’t stick. After the 2011 season, Perdue moved back to Glenwood to make more time for his wife, Jennifer, and to be at home more with his four children.
“As a JUCO coach, you’re always on the road trying to pick up players that fall from Division 1 or 2, trying to find the next best thing,” Perdue said. “It takes time away from your family.”
Besides, Perdue said he loves his home at Glenwood. So much, in fact, that he teaches three P.E. classes and an enrichment class on communication in addition to his coaching roles.
He’s involved in just about everything. He’s a part of students’ lives in the classroom, athletics and extracurricular activities.
At break or at lunch, you’ll probably find him going from table to table, talking to anyone and everyone. He’ll be cracking jokes, catching up on the latest drama, giving advice or whatever it is the students need that day.
On Friday mornings, you’ll find him at Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). On Friday nights in the fall, he’ll be up in the booth calling the football games for the Gators.
And when he’s in the vicinity, you’ll know it.
“Coach Perdue is a man who leads by his actions,” said Glenwood senior guard Emma Head. “Although most know him by his mouth, Coach is someone who makes sure we all know he loves us. He prays with and for us before every practice and game, leads the school’s FCA and tells us how much we mean to him. To me, his actions lead in ways words could never.”
The lessons Perdue teaches have led to athletic success at Glenwood, as his varsity basketball and softball teams have 12 state titles, and four more at the junior varsity level. He has also produced four 1,000-point scorers in varsity basketball and is nearing 400 wins as a head coach with Glenwood basketball alone.
More importantly, the winning standard goes beyond the Glenwood campus. Perdue has seen 52 of his former Gators go on to play college sports, which he added is his biggest accomplishment as a coach.
Perdue has found his passion. He knows where he thrives, and he’s there to stay.
“I just love this place. I love being here. I love being a part of it,” Perdue said while looking out at the empty Glenwood gym. “This gym and I have a lot of history together. Something about this place — I just can’t push myself away from it. I’m just going to be a Glenwood Gator … keep on coaching.”