Chris Culpepper is finishing his eighth year as the athletic director at North Gwinnett High School. The Guilford College graduate has been at North since 1991.
In this latest installment of "Getting to Know...," Culpepper talks with staff writer Corey Clark on a variety of topics, ranging from his first job to the hardest hit he ever took on the football field to his retirement plans.
CC: What was your first job growing up?
CC: My first job growing up, I was a true soda jerk.
CC: How much did that pay?
CC: Oh, we're talking around 1966, and it was 90 cents an hour. But I did it for the girls of course.
CC: What was the hardest you ever got hit on the football field (Culpepper was a quarterback/tight end in college)?
CC: I was playing tight end. Larry Tutu from Catawba College, he basically knocked me out with a forearm. I fired out to block him and he hit me with a forearm ... then I came back to the huddle, caught a hook pass over the middle, the linebacker locked me up and Tutu got me again. Then, I got up and ran to the wrong side of the field. The rest of the game is a blur. I probably shouldn't have been out there playing.
CC: You were an economics major in college, so when did you find out it wasn't for you?
CC: I worked for a little over a year in the private world and then I just decided I missed sports too much. I wanted to try and teach and coach. So I applied in DeKalb County, where I had many friends.
CC: Where was your first job?
CC: Briarcliff High School. I was the football offensive coordinator for the varsity and I was the eighth grade basketball coach while (former North coach) Ralph Nunn was the varsity coach. I didn't know Ralph was the varsity coach there until I got the job.
CC: So how did you wind up at North?
CC: Ralph Nunn called me when they had a football/basketball opening in 1991. I interviewed and they offered me a job to coach basketball and football and teach economics.
CC: So did you think you would leave coaching for administration, was that the plan?
CC: No, I was content. I enjoyed teaching in the classroom and I really enjoyed coaching. But I still coach. It's just now it's as a hobby. I still coach the eighth grade football team here. I've been doing that for three years now.
CC: What's your favorite restaurant?
CC: Crossroads Grille, right up here in Suwanee. They have steak and seafood.
CC: So you live in Suwanee?
CC: Yep, I live about two blocks from the school.
CC: So not a bad commute, then?
CC: Oh yeah. I tell people, if there's traffic it takes me four minutes to get to work instead of two.
CC: What's your favorite movie?
CC: That's a tough one. You might have to give me a second to think about that one. I guess I'll say Braveheart.
CC: Did you cry at all?
CC: (laughs) No, I didn't cry. I got emotional, but I didn't cry.
CC: Favorite snack food?
CC: Reese's. Any kind of Reese's.
CC: What's your favorite hobby?
CC: I play baseball in a men's senior league.
CC: Cool. Are you a pitcher?
CC: No, I'm a first baseman. I don't have any arm left.
CC: Where do you hit in the lineup?
CC: (laughs) I hit about ninth, but understand we bat 14 in the lineup.
CC: Who is the best athlete you've seen since you've been in Gwinnett?
CC: Well, I probably would have to concur with other people and say (Atlanta Brave Jeff) Francoeur. The number of times he touched the ball to the number of times he was able to make something happen was an unbelievable ratio. And that's just football, I'm talking about. He was obviously the same way in baseball.
CC: Where did you and your wife meet?
CC: We met in the city of Atlanta. Actually, the guy who was kind of my best friend wanted to go out with her best friend, so I went out with him.
CC: So you were a wing man?
CC: Yeah, I was kind of like the wing man. And me and her really hit it off, but my best friend and that girl didn't work out.
CC: How much longer do you see yourself doing what you're doing?
CC: I will probably keep doing these things for a while, but in the meantime I will take one year off. I will retire on July 1 of this year and I will work next year half-time at North. I will still be the athletic director at North next year. And after that me and my wife are going to take off for a year and do some traveling. We hope to make it up to Alaska during the summer.
CC: Don't want to visit up there in the winter?
CC: (laughs) No, if we went up there in the winter, we might not ever come back.