Head Coach Chris Slade celebrates Pace football’s 2015 State Championship victory. Photo: Fred Assaf

Pace Head Football Coach Chris Slade has been involved with the game of football for nearly his whole life. Coach Slade attended Tabb High School in Yorktown, Virginia where he played on the varsity football team and won a state championship. He later went on to play for the University of Virginia (UVA) football team where he won the ACC Championship and was recognized as a consensus first team All-American his junior and senior seasons.

Subsequently, Coach Slade was drafted by the New England Patriots in the second round as the 31st overall pick in the 1993 National Football League (NFL) draft. In 1997, Coach Slade was invited to play in the Pro Bowl, and was named to the All-Pro team. Prior to that, in the 1996-1997 season, Coach Slade and the Patriots won the AFC Championship, but lost to the Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl by a score of 35-21. Coach Slade played linebacker for the New England Patriots for eight seasons and played his final season for the Carolina Panthers in 2001.

In March of 2009, Coach Slade was selected to the New England Patriots All-1990’s Team. As head coach of the Pace Academy varsity football team, he has won a state championship and coached some of the top players in the country.

Knightly News: What was your favorite moment as a player or coach?

Chris Slade: My favorite memory as a player would have to be winning the state championship in high school and later going on to winning a state championship as a coach. Also, in college, winning the ACC and being the only team in UVA history to win 10 games. In the NFL, playing in the Super Bowl and playing in the Pro Bowl. There are many to choose from, but those are some of my favorite memories as a player or coach.

KN: What was it like being drafted to the NFL?

CS: It was exciting. The big thing is not knowing where you are going to go. They talk about where you are going to be slotted, and when it comes around that number you are supposed to be picked, you begin to get a little nervous.

KN: Did you want to play for the Patriots?

CS: I did not care; I just wanted to play in the NFL.

KN: What was it like scoring a touchdown in the NFL?

CS: As a defensive player, it was like hitting the lottery, because it rarely ever happens. I played in 160 games and being able to score two touchdowns hardly ever happens and the ball just fell my way.

KN: After retiring from the NFL and deciding to become a coach, how did you get connected with Pace?

CS: After I retired I worked in the franchise business. I used to own Planet Smoothie stores. I did that for six years. After that, I started working for the media: Comcast Sports South and Fox Sports Net. I really did not get interested in coaching until six years ago when I started coaching at Pace. I was connected with Pace through a UVA social event at the Assaf’s house, and that is where I first met Martha and Fred. Fred and I just hit it off, and I went on to meet Kevin Johnson and I met some of the kids, and that is how I ended up here.

KN: What was it like winning a state championship as a coach?

CS: Relief. You put in a lot of work, a lot of time. But it is like this: you win the championship and it is all that you think about. So it is kind of a blessing and kind of a curse.

KN: Do you miss playing in the NFL?

CS: Now, I do not miss it, but the first few years I was out it was difficult. But I actually enjoy coaching as much, and maybe even more, than I enjoyed playing.