Dollar says family, football helped defeat cancer

Published 3:38 pm Tuesday, August 9, 2011

BRUNDIDGE — When people think of new Pike County head football coach Rodney Dollar, one word comes to everyone’s mind. Family.

Throughout his coaching career, the 26-year veteran head coach has always surrounded himself with assistant coaches who have prided themselves in those same core values.

An example of that family atmosphere was demonstrated during two-a-days earlier this month when all of the Pike County varsity and junior varsity football players were hanging out together underneath a large tent adjacent to Bulldog Stadium. At the same time, Dollar and his new assistant coaches were mingling talking about what they had witnessed in the mid-morning workout. It is that strong feeling of oneness that Dollar’s teams have possessed over the years which has helped earn success at lesser-established places like Frisco City, Houston Academy (Dothan) and Tallassee before his arrival.

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In the past decade, Coach Dollar’s strong family values have been tested severely because of cancer.

During the 2001 season, Dollar was diagnosed with the cancer Hodgkins Lymphoma. In 2010, Dollar went through his final season at Tallassee dealing with a stomach cancer that he just recently beat earlier this year.

Dollar said defeating cancer twice has been bigger than any victory he’s earned on the football field.

“When I went through the cancer at Houston Academy, the best part about this story was the way the doctors and the people at HA helped us,” Dollar said. “Being a (former) athlete, I thought I was invisible. But cancer will break anybody down.

“I thought I was really sick until I saw other cancer patients taking their chemo and radiation. It really puts everything into perspective.”

Dollar said he’s had to learn about a different type of toughness while dealing with cancer.

“The mental aspect is huge in a major recovery process,” Dollar said. “That’s hard. You’ve got to have a lot of people around you to defeat cancer like friends, doctors and preachers.”

Ironically, it was Dollar’s passion for coaching high school football that helped keep him going during the past decade at Houston Academy and Tallassee.

New Pike County Principal Willie Wright said Dollar’s likable personality rubs off on everyone involved.

“Coach Dollar is a unique individual,” Wright said. “In the time I’ve seen him around the kids, I have seen how they have bonded with him. I met his family at the spring jamboree (against Zion Chapel and Luverne), I noticed his daughter running out the footballs to the officials during the jamboree. I knew at that point he was going to make this a family atmosphere.

“Brundidge is a small town. So I knew it was very important to have someone who can relate to our kids that can make a difference in the community. That’s why family is important because it sticks together.”

So just who is Rodney Dollar’s family?

Dollar said being a high school football coach has always been a lifelong passion for him.

“There’s nothing else I’d rather do,” Dollar said.

Dollar said his wife Kim has been with him every step of the way. They have been married for nearly 26 years.

“My wife takes care of the (game) stats on Friday nights,” Dollar said. “She knows the players as good as I do when it comes time (for the season).”

Rodney and Kim first met in Ozark during a visit.

What many people don’t know about Dollar is he also has a baseball background. Dollar played professional baseball for three years in the Houston Astros organization before going back to football.

The Dollars have two children in Brett Dollar (26) and Brianne Kent (22). Brett played football for his father at Houston Academy from 2000-2003 and helped build the Raiders into a 2A Wiregrass powerhouse. The Auburn University graduate works as a computer analyst at Northup-Grumman at Maxwell Air Force in Montgomery. He currently lives in Prattville.

Brianne Kent is a 2007 Houston Academy graduate who just recently earned her degree in Elementary Education from Troy University. During her four years at Troy, Kent worked in the athletic department and served as one of the Trojan Hostesses during football gameday weekends. Kent currently resides in Brundidge.

She recently married incoming Troy senior wide receiver Brandon Kent from Rehobeth. Brianne is currently working as a new fourth-grade teacher at Pike County Elementary School. She will also serve as the new head volleyball coach for PCHS starting this season.

Dollar said he still has memories of his days dealing with cancer while coaching at HA.

“The pep rallies, particularly at Houston Academy, were amazing,” Dollar said. “It was fun there. Everytime we stepped onto the field, I enjoyed the family atmosphere. It was like that from daylight to dark.”

Now, Dollar will be trying to bring that same family feeling to Brundidge.