Kurt Traylor has been coaching football in East Texas for more than 20 years with stops at Jacksonville, Gilmer and now Robert E. Lee High School.
Traylor is in his third season as the head coach of the Tyler Lee Red Raiders and has the Red Raiders off to a 3-0 start following wins over Marshall (27-20), John Tyler (34-7) and Nacogdoches (35-28).
Traylor was a part of three state titles in Gilmer as the Buckeyes won in 2004, 2009 and 2014. Traylor’s brother, Jeff, who is now on staff at the University of Arkansas, was the head coach at Gilmer.
Traylor and his wife, Katie, have four children — Will, Kole, Rylie and Allie.
What inspired you to get into coaching?
I love sports, and I love the competition of sports. I love how football is just like the game of life — rough, tough and dirty.
What was it like coaching with your brother, Jeff?
It was a love-hate relationship (laughs). Really, it was the greatest time of my life. He was my boss. I respected that, and he respected the job I did for him and the Buckeyes. We had a blast working together.
Who are your biggest coaching influences?
Jeff Traylor, Matt Turner (Gilmer head coach), Danny Long (longtime coach, current athletic director at Conroe ISD), JB Grimes (offensive line coach at Auburn) and Kenny Ferro (retired coach from Kilgore High School, LSU and Tulane). Matt Turner really showed me how to coach and work hard every day. Jeff Traylor taught me how to love kids unconditionally, and the entire job was about the kids and not all of your accomplishments. Be real with them and love the heck out of them. Danny Long was the best I have ever seen at handling parents and administration issues. JB Grimes taught me to take care of the little things, and the big things will take care of themselves. Kenny Ferro taught me the fundamentals of offensive line play. I could name several, but these are a few.
What are some of your most memorable moments in your coaching career?
I’ve got a ton of them. The obvious is the state championships at Gilmer with Jeff. I really enjoyed building that foundation and culture in my hometown. The culture we built affected the entire school and city. I really enjoyed coaching all of my nephews. They may not have liked it, but I really enjoyed coaching Jordan, Jake and Grayson. And my first head-coaching job at Tyler Lee.
What is your advice for someone who wants to get into coaching?
Appreciate the hard work it takes to be great. Too many coaches focus on the fruit and not the roots. Don’t expect success without hard work and dedication. Find a successful program and go work for them.