ATLANTA -- When the members of Pace Academy's varsity football team assemble for the 2013 season, they will play under the leadership of former NFL linebacker Chris Slade. Head of School Fred Assaf today appointed Slade the Knights' head coach. Slade will succeed Head Coach Matt Hall, who launched the school's football program in 2006. Hall will continue at Pace as Upper School dean of students, varsity baseball head coach and an Upper School history teacher.
"In just one year on our coaching staff, Chris Slade has had a tremendous impact," says Assaf. "He is a man of integrity with a proven record of leadership, and I know he will lead our student-athletes well. We are incredibly grateful for the past leadership of Head Coach Matt Hall and know that Chris will continue to grow the program that Matt so successfully began."
Athletic Director Kris Palmerton praises Hall for the foundation he laid for the Pace Academy football program. "We couldn't have found anyone better to start from ground zero and do what Matt has done with our players and the program as a whole," Palmerton says. "I'm glad Matt will continue to coach our varsity baseball team and look forward to seeing where Chris takes the football program in the years to come."
Slade joined the Pace community in the fall of 2012 and has served as assistant varsity football coach, assistant eighth-grade basketball coach and an admissions associate. He brings a wealth of knowledge and playing experience to his new role. A native of Newport News, Va., Slade played football and basketball and ran track in high school. He was the All-State Virginia High School Defensive Player of the Year, a member of USA Today's second team All-USA, and part of state champion football and basketball teams.
Slade went on to attend the University of Virginia, where he was a team captain, a two-time All-American and 1992's Defensive Player of the Year. He was named to the All-ACC Football Team three times and holds the All-ACC career record for sacks (40). In addition, Slade was named one of the ACC's top 50 players of all time and received the ACC Legend Award. The University of Virginia retired his jersey following his final season at the school.
Slade was drafted by the New England Patriots in the 1993 NFL Draft. During his eight years with the team, he was named to the NFL All-Rookie Team and was a three-time Defensive Player of the Year. He served as a team captain and was recognized as a Pro Bowl selection and All-Pro after the 1997 season. Slade was named to the Patriots' 1990s All-Decade Team. He played his final professional season as a Carolina Panther.
"I'm honored to take over the Pace varsity football team, a program that Coach Hall started and has done a tremendous job growing over the last six years," says Slade. "I am looking forward to the new challenges that come with being a head coach, and I am excited to continue coaching Pace's student-athletes, who work so hard on and off the field."