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Football: Gage to retire – Paradise coach leaves sidelines after 42 years

By Reece Waddell | Published Saturday, May 12, 2018
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Career Comes to a Close

CAREER COMES TO CLOSE – Paradise coach Ronnie Gage celebrates a touchdown in a win over Ponder last season. Gage announced his retirement this week after 42 years of coaching. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Paradise athletic director and head football coach Ronnie Gage announced this week he will retire at the end of the current school year.

The two-time state champion and Texas High School Football Hall of Fame member had quadruple bypass surgery two weeks ago after suffering a minor heart attack.

“The problem right now is not knowing what kind of recovery rate I’m going to be up against,” Gage said. “There’s so much to be done, and I don’t want to be the anchor that holds the district back. I just think this was probably a call for me to step back and turn loose of the reins.”

Gage, a Decatur native, finished his 42nd year coaching last season. He spent 27 seasons as a head coach and compiled a career mark of 187-97-9.

The 65-year-old won two state titles at Lewisville in 1993 and 1996. While coaching the Farmers, Gage went 119-46-3. He was named Coach of the Year five different times at the district level in his career.

In two seasons at Paradise, Gage went 7-13. Before his arrival, the Panthers went 4-26 in three years under former coach Scott Broussard.

Prior to his stint at Paradise, Gage served as the head coach at Barbers Hill outside of Houston for six years. He was also the head coach at NCAA Division III Austin College in Sherman. In 2008, he led the Kangaroos to their best record in seven years, going 5-5.

“I wouldn’t change a thing in 42 years,” Gage said. “I’ve been blessed. When you get ill like this, you realize how important this fraternity of coaches really is. It’s a special profession. I’m very proud of my accomplishments, but more so, I hope every kid that has played for me at some point in time has picked up something that’s a positive they can take on and use throughout life. I always will be proud to be called coach.”

Paradise ISD Superintendent Paul Uttley said the district will work swiftly to name Gage’s replacement. Uttley hopes to have someone in place by the end of May and will interview internal candidates first.

“We feel like there are some opportunities within the district, and we’ll give those folks a shot who have been with Paradise,” Uttley said.

Uttley said Gage has positively impacted the Paradise community and helped the athletic program begin trending in the right direction.

“I want to thank Coach Gage, and I want this community to understand what Coach Gage has done for this school district and the athletic program,” Uttley said. “Coach Gage was not planning on retiring until just recently. I want it to be understood that Coach Gage has done a fantastic job for this school district and has moved the athletic program forward. Coach Gage has left Paradise in a better position than when he got here.”

Gage got his first high school head coaching job at Northwest in 1986.

Northwest Director of Athletics Gary Prescott joined him in 1987 as the Texans’ offensive coordinator and said Gage made a tremendous difference in his life over the years.

“He will be missed,” Prescott said. “There’s no question about that. He stood the test of time. He’s a special man.”

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