Former Lakeside School football coach Buddy Nick epitomized the American way of life for London, England transplant Paul Trodd.
“I was about 5-foot-11, 140 pounds, Trodd said. “Coach Nick took a tackling dummy and threw it over the goal posts. He would swing it as hard as he could and tell you to tackle it. It came my turn and he looked at me and said, ‘England, go kick.’”
Trodd would go kick, earning his way to the University of Alabama where he backed up star kicker Peter Kim, himself a former soccer fanatic originally from Korea.
“(Nick) was American, John Wayne American,” Trodd recalled last week during a reunion at Greenville of several former Alabama players, including Major Olgilvie, Bill Searcey, Russ Wood and Jake Coker.
During the United States’ bicentennial year, 1976, Trodd’s father, Peter was recruited to come back to the states to work at American Buildings in Eufaula.
When Peter Trodd told his son they were moving to Eufaula, he said that the climate was sub-tropical, “but that’d I’d need to wear shoes because there were snakes and creepy crawlies out there,” said Paul. “I love it. I haven’t looked back since and I consider Eufaula my hometown.”
Once, he was tagging along with his father in an American Buildings golf tournament at the now-defunct Lakepoint course. His father had hit a ball into the water. “I just waded out there to get it and all of a sudden the men were yelling at me to get out of there because a gator would eat me up,” Paul said.
At 15 when he was relocated to Eufaula, Paul Trodd was somewhat out of his element, with his favorite sport – soccer -- an afterthought in 1976 in these parts. A Lakeside student from Seale, Hubert Shiver, asked Paul one day to go outside and kick.
“I was an average soccer player in England,” Paul Trodd said. “I worshipped soccer. Someone said years later that it’s ashamed that they didn’t have soccer at Lakeside. I said, ‘We did, I was just the only one.’
“To me, football here was a new game. But, it was the epitome of the American way. It had helmets and all, a gladiator-like game. Sometimes at practice, I’d help out on the field, but sometimes I didn’t even need a shower.”
Lakeside, Trodd said, was “competitive” during his years as a Chief, going 6-4-1 in 1977 and 5-5-1 in ’78.
Trodd became close friends with Mike Spurlock, Jeff Pitts, Rick Lingo, and the recently deceased Dave Price.
While at Alabama, former Crimson Tide linebacker Russ Wood said he would use Trodd to attract the opposite sex with his British accent.
“Paul was our magnet man,” Wood said. “I’d take our kickers out, our Korean kicker Peter Kim and Paul. Peter would draw the girls over, but then they’d hear Paul talk, and they were hooked. He was like a magnet.”
Trodd said he saw most of his action on the freshmen team at Alabama, and recalled playing once at Fort Benning.
“We got on the Greyhound bus and Coach (Paul) Bryant would usually stick his head in before we left to say something,” Trodd said. “He would leave and we’d all look at each other and ask, ‘What’d he say?’ He just growled something.”
At Fort Benning, Trodd remembers playing in a concrete stadium against players much older than the Alabama team. “We realized they were playing football to get out of other stuff. The stands were filled with soldiers and they were drinking and smoking. By the second half, their players smelled of beer and cigarettes, too.”
The first time Trodd ever dressed out for the Alabama varsity was against the Miami Hurricanes in 1979 in Tuscaloosa. The Tide won, 30-0.
Trodd spent most of his Alabama playing days backing up Kim, but he was perfect in his career, going 4-for-4 on extra points and 1-for-1 on field goals, a 27-yarder at State College, Pennsylvania, in Alabama’s 31-16 win over Penn State that gave Bryant his Division I-tying 314th victory (tying Amos Alonzo Stagg).
Trodd wore jersey number 8 at Alabama, and joked that the school “un-retired” his number to allow Julio Jones to wear it.
Now 58, Trodd and his wife, Margery (Kutz), who also lived in Eufaula for four years, live in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, where Paul sells fitness equipment for Diversified Products. They have two sons, Adam (a University of Alabama graduate living in New York) and Nick (who attends Florida State University on a full ride academically), and a daughter, Cameron, 9.
“I try to get back to Eufaula as often as I possibly can,” Paul Trodd said. “I find excuses to stop in if I have to go to Atlanta or somewhere. I love that town.”