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Former Gator lands football head coaching job at Tennessee powerhouse

| Randy Dickson
When last seen on a football sideline in Okaloosa County, Christian Mainor was a star wide receiver for the Baker Gators. A lot has happened professionally since the fall of 2010 for Mainor, a 2011 graduate of Baker last played football for the Gators. He also was a standout on the Baker basketball and baseball teams and admits that baseball was probably his best sport.
Christian Mainor, a 2011 Baker graduate, has been named the head football coach at Tyner Academy in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Mainor graduated from the University of West Florida, moved to East Tennessee and started his high school coaching career.

That career started at Ooltewah High School in Hamilton County, Tenn., just south of Chattanooga. He made the jump from wide receivers coach to offensive coordinator within a couple of years for head coach Scott Chandler.

When Chandler took the job at Tyner Academy, a charter school in Chattanooga, Mainor went with him as the offensive coordinator for the Rams prior to the 2021 season.  The Rams won the Class 2A state championship in 2022 with their only loss coming to eight-time defending Class 3A state champion Alcoa.

Chandler stepped down as the Tyner coach in February to be close to his family in Georgia. Mainor was named head coach of the Rams on March 3.

Mainor admitted that he was surprised to a certain degree to get the job at such a young, but in other ways he wasn’t surprise.

“If you look back and when I played (at Baker) I went from one week playing defensive end to one week playing corner to one week playing outside linebacker,” he said. “It was the same thing on offense. I’d go from playing quarterback to receiver to tight end, sometimes in certain sets even fullback.

“As far as the Xs and Os and being able to see the field during the game, I don’t know if I’m surprised by that end. I would say being 30 and taking over the reigning state champions is a big surprise, but I don’t know if being 30 and being a head coach is surprising.”

Baker School principal Mike Martello was the Gator basketball coach when Mainor was in school. Martello is happy for his former player and said Tyner made a great choice.

“He was an awesome kid,” Martello said. “I can’t think of a better role model for high school kids than Christian Mainor. He’s going to be an awesome coach and an awesome role model for the kids.

“I think he is going to instill hard work in those kids. If you can get a group of kids to work together and work hard, you are going to see things like state championships and success like that. I think that one of his strengths was working hard to get better and that’s what he is going to bring to those kids in Tennessee.”

Mainor is confident of the football aspect of the job. He knows other aspects of being a first-time head coach will require more of a learning curve but he believes he has gleaned from Chandler, his mentor.

“There’s a lot more to football than the Xs and Os,” he said. “There is the culture aspect, the leadership aspect. Those are things that I think being under coach Chandler has really helped me. He has a saying that our job is not to build boys, but to make men that will be good husbands, fathers and members of society.

“I learned how to do things the right way as far as implementing culture from him.”

Mainor recalls his days as a Gator with fond memories. He said he loved the Friday Night Lights of football, the close relationships he built with his teammates in basketball and he loved baseball because it was his best sport.

Mainor is a Christian by given name, but more importantly as a Christ Follower. That is a bond he shares with Chandler as well as his Baker head coach Bob Kellogg and assistant coaches David Oglesby and Andy Valmus. Mainor knows first-hand the importance of having a coach that lives his faith in all aspects of their life.

“It was a huge,” he said of having Christian coaches. “It really wasn’t even just coach Kellogg that I was fortunate to have. Coaches David Oglesby and Andy Valmus, I still talk to them today. “They were big part of the reason I wanted to be a coach.

“The games are big and you want to win. But it’s more than that. It’s being able to impact kids, especially from a spiritual standpoint.”

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