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Firmly Planted

By Christian Shields, March 14, 2023

head coach jamey chadwell says he’ll water the roots where god has moved him

Sitting in a lounge at the Liberty Football Center on a sunny day in January with the north end zone goalpost looming in the background, new Flames Football Head Coach Jamey Chadwell said it was almost seven years ago to that day when he first thought about someday coaching the Flames.

“It’s amazing how God does answer your prayers. It might not be on your timeline, but it’s always on His,” Chadwell said. “I enjoyed all those other places very much, (but) to me Liberty was always the premier Christian institution. So, as a Christian coach, I thought about how awesome it would be to be at Liberty coaching football.”

Since officially joining Liberty in December, Chadwell has worked to become acquainted with the university, the student body, and his team. Chadwell spoke at the opening Spring 2023 Convocation and has attended events like the Midnight Mayhem hockey game in January.

Chadwell speaks to the student body at Convocation on Jan. 18.

Head Coach Jamey Chadwell attends the Midnight Mayhem men’s hockey game at the LaHaye Ice Center on Jan. 22.

“It’s been pretty electric,” he said. “The Convo, I was extremely nervous because it’s your first time speaking in front of 9,000 people. At the hockey game, it’s midnight and until 2 a.m., there was nobody leaving. Everybody has told me how passionate the students are about their sports teams here, and say the football games are special, so I wanted to see that from some other sports as well. The way they care about being at Liberty and the way they support their classmates is pretty special.” 

While much of his initial time as head coach was spent recruiting, Chadwell also prioritized developing relationships with players and coaching staff. Through initiatives such as the team’s CPR (coach-player relationship) time, he hopes to build cohesiveness between his staff and

“I’m a big believer that you lay roots where you’re at, and you water them,” Chadwell said. “If you water them, and God wants to move you, He will move you. I don’t want to have one foot in, one foot out. What I’m trusting is that every time we’ve made a move and it has been challenging, He’s always made the move; He’s always blessed it and made it so much better than I could imagine.”

— Jamey Chadwell


“The biggest thing right now is we’ve got to earn and gain the trust of our team,” he said. “We’re about building a relationship and connecting with it. If you have any type of relationship, you’ve got to have trust in there, no matter what that relationship is. (Trust) will be the determination of whether we have a chance to have a positive impact. It won’t be (about just) getting the best players; it will be getting the players who buy into that. That’s what we’re doing right now.”

Change and uncertainty often leave people anxious, and in addition to the changes that the team faces with new players and a new coaching staff, Chadwell and his wife, Solmaz, and their three children have uprooted and moved to a different state. Yet, through it all, they place their trust in God.

“I’m a big believer that you lay roots where you’re at, and you water them,” Chadwell said. “If you water them, and God wants to move you, He will move you. I don’t want to have one foot in, one foot out. What I’m trusting is that every time we’ve made a move and it has been challenging, He’s always made the move; He’s always blessed it and made it so much better than I could imagine.”

Despite a wide résumé of coaching opportunities at both secular and Christian universities, Chadwell has always allowed his faith to impact his coaching, a faith he has held dear since a child but became more real to him in college.

It was after an injury he suffered while playing quarterback for East Tennessee State University that Chadwell said his faith became a driving force in his life. His ankle was shattered, sidelining him for the entire season.

“At that time, it was about football, football, football,” said Chadwell, who became a Christian at 14. “Even though I had accepted Jesus in my life, he wasn’t number one. I equate it to he was my friend, but he wasn’t my best friend. There’s a big difference. When you have a best friend, you share secrets, you’re intimate, all those different things with your best friend. I wasn’t doing that, and football was the main thing.”

Chadwell compared his life prior to the injury as being “built on sand,” harkening back to the parable of the wise and foolish builders from Matthew 7. He said he had focused all of his attention on his sports career.

“Once I firmly committed, saying ‘Hey, I want to make (God) the rock of my life,’ that didn’t mean I didn’t have trials or tribulations, but I’ve been able to stand strong because of what He was able to do in my life, and I put my faith and trust completely in Him.”

After graduation, Chadwell found his calling in coaching and spent several years as an assistant coach for his alma mater as well as Charleston Southern University, before taking his first head coach job at North Greenville University in 2009. He served as head coach at Delta State (2012), Charleston Southern (2013-2016), and Coastal Carolina (2017, 2019-22).

During his final three seasons at Coastal, the Chanticleers caught fire, going 31-6 over that span, including an 11-1 season in which the team’s only loss was to the Flames in the 2020 Cure Bowl. At the conclusion of that season, Chadwell was named AP Coach of the Year. 

At Liberty, Chadwell aims to continue that success on the field, but he said his ultimate goal is to glorify God. He said being at a strong Christian university with like-minded people is encouraging.

“More than anything, you yourself can get fed, not that you don’t try to feed your players in different ways. At a Christian school, you don’t have to hide it (your faith), which is awesome. You don’t have to shy away from it.

“When you’re around other people who are seeking similar pathways and really trying to bring God glory, then it lifts you up,” he continued. “In all the jobs that we all have in sports in general, there’s a lot that goes into that, and you can lose that charge a lot. But if you have people you’re around who are always trying to lift you up and bring you that bolt, it’s like when you plug your phone in; you need that battery replenished. There’s something special about that you can’t replicate.”

The Chadwell family after a press conference on Dec. 4 where Chadwell was announced as Liberty’s new head coach.

By grounding his coaching philosophy in biblical wisdom, Chadwell said he hopes to edify current Christians on the team as well as bring unbelievers to a saving knowledge and relationship with Christ. This includes serving as an example of how to live a godly life for those under his direction.

He said one crucial aspect of any team sport is sacrifice. When asked what biblical characters he’s admired the most, he said one is John the Baptist because his story shows how surrendering one’s desires and plans can benefit something bigger.

“John the Baptist was willing to be beheaded for his belief in Jesus,” he said. “As a coach, you ask yourself and you ask your players to be so committed that they’re willing to do something for someone else. That’s a sacrifice. In the Bible there’s a lot about sacrifice, (people) who are willing to give up everything for something or somebody else.”

Another change comes this fall, when Flames Football joins Conference USA after qualifying for four bowl games — and winning three — in its first four seasons of eligibility. (Read a full breakdown of C-USA opponents).

“Our word for the year is ‘embrace’  because it’s brand-new; there are a lot of changes, a lot of adversity,” Chadwell said.

“Every time you play, you want to go win your league,” he added. “You want to try to put a team together that can win a conference championship. It’s obviously going to be challenging because you’re going to be playing teams that are consistently going to be good. They’re all playing for something important.”

He said it’s also a chance to see some rivalries develop and further energize Flames Nation.

“I think now that we’re in this conference, you’re going to see the (teams like) Jacksonville State, you’re going to start seeing them every year,” he said. “Now, our university, our community, our students can say, ‘Hey, that’s a rivalry.’ We can create something, and I’m excited about that.”


vs. Bowling Green – Sept. 2
vs. New Mexico State – Sept. 9
vs. Sam Houston – Oct. 5 (Thursday)
vs. Middle Tennessee – Oct. 17 (Tuesday)
vs. Louisiana Tech – Nov. 4
vs. Old Dominion – Nov. 11
vs. UMass – Nov. 18

For single game and season tickets, visit LUFootball.com

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