Evidenced in the paternal affection that is apparent between Mickey and Jay Lindsey, the father and son have a relationship based in love and mutual respect. Both men demonstrate a sense of calling for leading and teaching young men through the sport of football; Mickey at Pace High School, and his only son, Jay, at Tate High School. A laid-back attitude underscored with a deep emotional tie to each other is shown via the mission that they live. The role these two individuals serve in their community is one of teacher, coach, mentor, and developer of young people.
Mickey Lindsey’s roots arise out of rural Whatley, Alabama going to Livingston University to play football. In the early 70s, the Tigers were a Gulf South Conference powerhouse under then-head coach Mickey Andrews, who went on to be a legendary defensive coach at Florida State University with Bobby Bowden. While attending school in Alabama, he met his wife, Gayle, of 39 years and the future mother of his children Jessica and Jay. After graduation, he headed to South Georgia for seven years as an assistant football coach at several high schools. During this time, Mickey and Gayle both received their master’s degrees from Valdosta State University. Then, in 1983, the Lindsey family moved to the Emerald Coast, where they have resided for the last thirty-one years.
Mickey has been the head football coach at Pace High School for the past 24 years, after making stops along the way at Escambia High School and Century High School. The Lindsey family’s ties to Pace run deep. Gayle Lindsey taught at Pace High School until retiring two years ago. The two Lindsey children, Jessica and Jay, attended and graduated from Pace High School. Jessica is currently a teacher in Gulf Breeze, and Jay is the head coach at Tate High School.
And this is where our story truly begins….
Growing up as a football coach’s son means going to practices with dad, running around the gym, throwing balls with whomever will play catch, and jumping on tackling dummies. Jay grew up idolizing the Pace High School football players his dad coached and could be found on the sidelines handing out water and footballs under the Friday night lights. Once he was old enough, he played receiver for his father at Pace High School. After graduation, Jay followed in Mickey’s footsteps and attended the University of West Alabama (formerly Livingston College) for a couple of years before returning to complete his degree at the University of West Florida. Jay’s coaching career began under his dad’s tutelage; he was an assistant coach for six years at Pace High School before taking the offensive coordinator’s position at Tate High School in 2012. Jay, his wife Carrie, and their 4-month-old daughter Avery were ecstatic when he was named the head coach at Tate High School during the summer of 2015.
Jay states his father never put any pressure on him to play football or to pursue a career as a high school coach, although he says there was never a thought of doing anything else. Just as his father, Jay views coaching as a calling to help develop young men, not just in football, but in life. He believes that being a member of a team and working together to achieve a common goal is one of the biggest life lessons one can learn from the sport of football. Jay says that teaching players to push harder than they think possible and being a part of something bigger than themselves are other important lessons learned from the game.
Both father and son express a strong affection for the Pace and Tate High School communities. Mickey states both are very similar blue-collar towns that support their football teams through thick and thin. Mickey and Jay are thankful for the loyalty the parents and fans demonstrate for their programs. Both teams are known for their strong work ethic that, more often than not, helps them overcome some of the more talented teams they face.
These two top-tier football programs will collide this fall. It will be the first time the Lindsey father-son duo will face each other as opposing head coaches. Optimism permeates from Mickey and Jay about the upcoming season for their respective teams. Father and son state both squads had productive offseason programs, which are unintentionally very similar when comparing their training methods. As to what the outcome will be when they square off this season, the pair declared it is not about them, but all about the kids. They will both prepare their teams to win and not let their relationship overshadow the game. Jay says, “It is one game out of ten we have on the schedule, and that one game will not define who we are as a program.”
When sitting with Mickey and Jay together, their love for each other bleeds through, regardless of the topic of conversation. Usually talking on the phone multiple times each week and getting together whenever work and family allows, not all of the conversation is about football. But as any coach will tell you, the subject still comes back around. When asked how much they would talk the week before their head-to-head match up, the competitiveness came out a little through grins and chuckles. Although neither coach would give a clear cut answer, both stated they do not see any changes in preparation for that week. Jay makes it clear that his mother, Gayle, will be in her usual seat behind the Pace sidelines. After the game they would not be two head coaches meeting at midfield for the customary handshake, but father and son, regardless of the outcome.
Mickey’s Friday ritual is to send Jay a “good luck” text message, much like any dad’s wish for his son. That text message will still arrive on October 9th when Mickey travels with his team to Tate High School. Whatever happens on that Friday night in Cantonment, and no matter the final record at the end of the season, the Emerald Coast is host to a rare occurrence: a father and son coaching rival high school football teams on the gridiron. Northwest Florida is blessed to have some of the finest men leading Panhandle football teams, and Mickey and Jay Lindsey are two great examples of high character individuals showing our youngsters how to be men through sport.