Just like family
G.A. Moore’s appearance Friday at PointBank immediately became a family reunion, filled with loud laughter and nostalgic stories about a man who changed many lives.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to get to see everybody because you just don’t get to see them often,” Moore said. “Pilot Point’s a special place. It always has been and always will be.”
Moore was at the bank to sign copies of the new book profiling Moore. “Beyond Just Win: A Profile on G.A. Moore” by Ed Housewright is an examination of Moore’s life and achievements in 45 years of coaching high school football.
Dozens of people attended to purchase a signed copy and pay their respects to the legendary coach, who has the most wins – 430 — in Texas history and whose teams won eight state championships. Moore coached three different times at Pilot Point, his hometown: 1963-70, 1977-85 and 2002-04. He ended his career at Aubrey.
With Lois Ann, his wife of over 50 years, Moore spent over two hours taking pictures, shaking hands and reminiscing with people that traveled from near and far to see him.
Moore’s friends and family gathered around and shared personal stories about growing up with G.A.
“I was out in the farm whittling a piece of wood with a knife about to stab myself and G.A. came and grabbed the knife out of my hand and showed me the right way to do it,” one woman said with a laugh. “So G.A. basically prevented my death.”
She didn’t see him as a coach because Moore and her dad were best friends for so many years, she said.
“He gave me my first Pilot Point bearcat helmet as a Christmas present from Santa Claus,” a man said.
Tona VanHook, G.A.’s youngest daughter, said her dad took every loss very personal.
“I would have to stay the night at a friend’s house because he’d be throwing up all night long because he was so sick,” she said. “He’d be so down on himself, it would make him physically sick.”
Pam Moore, G.A.’s older daughter, said despite her dad’s fame, she just saw him as a father.
“He is just my dad — that’s all I know him by,” she said.
She said one night stood out: November 8, 2003. That was the game G.A. broke Gordon Wood’s all-time wins record. Pilot Point beat Van Alstyne in that game. Wood, who died in 2003, is the equally legendary high school football coach who is best known for his tenure at Brownwood.
“There were so many people and so much press,” she said.
People at the signing said outsiders might see G.A. as a larger-than-life figure, but to them, he was just a person who coached football, loved everyone and would keep tabs on the people who moved away.
Greg Pelzel, who played quarterback for two of Moore’s state championship teams at Pilot Point High School, said Moore got the best out of him.
“I was just an average country farm boy,” Pelzel said. “We all were, but he made us successful.”
Moore said his motivation for coaching football stemmed from his childhood love for being an athlete.
“I grew up with a group of guys who didn’t want to do anything but play ball. We just wanted to be athletes,” Moore said.
He said there was always one person who took the time to spend time with young people, so as he got older, he wanted to give back, he said.
Moore said his routine growing up consisted of working out in the morning during two-a-days, tending cotton and crop fields for three to four hours and then going back for the evening workout.
“That’s just the way it was,” Moore said.
Moore grew up in Mustang, right outside of Pilot Point. He attended high school in Pilot Point and said the city was full of tradition.
“We never had a game — football, basketball or baseball — where we didn’t have more people there than the other team,” he said. “That was Pilot Point. Pilot Point was the pride of this whole part of Texas in my opinion.”
Moore went to the North Texas State on a football scholarship. He stopped playing because of an injury, and that’s when he set his eye on coaching.
“I knew I wasn’t going to be able to play anymore, so I wanted to coach,” Moore said.
Athletics gives you an opportunity to get an education, he said.
“I went to high school because of football. I went to college because of football,” Moore said. “Thank goodness, because of football, I got an opportunity to get an education. It doesn’t get any better than that.”
Moore said parents have evolved over time, but kids are kids.
“Kids still want somebody that loves them, cares about them and wants to make them succeed,” he said. “I’ve talked to person after person after person that said, ‘I wish I had somebody that would’ve made me do something.’’’
Coaching is a 24/7 job, Moore said.
“I think you oughta see your players at church, at the grocery store, around the school. That’s the way I was raised,” Moore said. “Coaching is 24 hours a day. You don’t coach eight hours, go home somewhere else and then come back tomorrow and say let’s coach again.
“The greatest jobs you do coaching are not at school, it’s where you see them downtown or at the fueling station or at the bank. So they see you at a different light and they know when you talk to them there that you really care something about them. A lot folks don’t understand that,” he said.