Trawick brothers shine light on Decatur football connections

The Trawick brothers became fixtures in the Decatur sports community after three of the five brothers played varsity football for Decatur High School in the late 1960s and early 1970s while the younger brothers played youth sports in Decatur.

The Trawick brothers then all went on to play football at East Tennessee State University – after the oldest brother Bill Trawick was recruited to play for former Decatur High School head coach Franklin Brooks at ETSU. 

Lee, Steve, Don, and Guy Trawick followed in Bill Trawick’s footsteps. 

The Trawick brothers’ journey is unique on its own, considering all five brothers played football for the same Division 1 college – with some brothers setting records and earning accolades along the way. The brothers’ presence placed a Trawick on ETSU’s rosters for more than a decade. 

The Trawick story also shines light on Decatur’s connections to the metro Atlanta high school football scene and the football community throughout the southeast. 

“The circle of football—for us as a family—travels into some areas where we were coached or played with and played against some of the biggest names that stepped on the field,” said Guy Trawick.

Bill Trawick’s record-setting run at Decatur High School is an example of the insight the family’s story gives into the local and regional football scenes. 

In 1968, Bill Trawick led Decatur High School to a 28-0 opening week win over powerhouse Griffin High School in coach Doug Messer’s first year commanding the Decatur Bulldogs. The Bulldogs blew the game open on Bill Trawick’s 97-yard touchdown run – which featured several broken tackles and the delighted mother of the Trawick’s running to the endzone to greet her son, according to Guy Trawick.   

Current Marist High School head coach Alan Chadwick handed the ball off to Bill Trawick on his record-breaking run at Decatur. Chadwick is now the winningest active head coach in Georgia, but the connections run deeper.

Bill Trawick’s run also helped Messer start off on a good note, after former head coach Brooks moved on to ETSU. Brooks–who was then the defensive coordinator at ETSU–would convince Bill Trawick to play defensive back at ETSU instead of walking on at University of Georgia. 

Bill Trawick had similar offers to attend Tennessee, Florida, and other universities following his high school career that pinned him as an All-State Honorable Mention running back following his four years of starting at Decatur. 

At ETSU, Bill Trawick’s defensive back coach was Buddy Bennett. Bennett’s secondaries regularly broke their own NCAA records. During Bill Trawick’s first year playing college football, ETSU went undefeated, won the Grantland Rice Bowl, and set the then D1 record for interceptions with 37. 

Bennett later took a job at University of Arkansas and continued setting records under legendary Arkansas head coach Frank Broyles. Broyles–the namesake of the award given yearly to college football’s top assistant coach–is a Decatur High School graduate and member of the College Football Hall of Fame.

Bill Trawick (41) running the ball for Decatur High School before becoming the first of five brothers to play at ETSU. Photos provided by Guy Trawick

The brothers also played with and learned under coaches and players such as Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback coach Clyde Christensen – who currently coaches NFL legend Tom Brady, former NFL MVP Terry Bradshaw, former Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith, former Falcons running back Jerry Butler, former Superbowl MVP Phil Simms, and more than a dozen other NFL players and coaches.

Guy Trawick attributed the long history of Trawick football success to the information his brothers learned from several well-renowned head coaches and then passed down to the younger brothers.

“I learned more from talking to Bill in a parking lot in Johnson City than I did from some of my coaches,” said Guy Trawick. “Listening to Bill, who was taught by Franklin Brooks, helped me while I was officiating and even helped get me to the NFL. My brothers taught me how to play the game, they taught me how to understand the game, and how to love the game.” 

He credits the brothers’ parents with instilling the mindsets necessary for them to all play college sports.

“Any success I had as a leader, I give to my parents in the example they set as presidents of Decatur Athletics Boosters,” said Guy Trawick. “I learned the importance of serving others and giving back to the sport that has given us as a family so much. If they saw a need, they found a solution.” 

Some notable accomplishments are still held by the brothers, in addition to a handful of other impressive accolades.

  • Bill Trawick was part of the “Bennett’s Bandits” secondary at ETSU that set the D1 record for interceptions in a season. 
  • All five of the brothers lettered playing varsity football at ETSU. Bill, Lee, and Guy Trawick were coin-toss captains at ETSU. Bill, Lee, and Steve Trawick all started for three or more seasons in college. 
  • Lee Trawick, thanks to his time running the triple option offense at Winnona Park youth sports, was selected to play quarterback at ETSU. He then set the second-place record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in a single game. He also won two Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Week Awards at ETSU while playing quarterback.
  • Steve Trawick was nominated as an Academic All American. 
  • Guy Trawick parlayed some of his football experience into a career in officiating. After his time at ETSU, the youngest brother spent 15 years as an NCAA and NFL football referee. He was also the SGA President and Leader of the Year at ETSU.
Lee Trawick ran the triple-option at ETSU after learning the skill playing youth sports in Decatur.

Despite all of the success at ETSU and beyond, Guy Trawick said “it all started at Winnona Park,” where all five brothers began their football careers. He said he credits his parents and his upbringing in Decatur for what led to the success he and his brothers found in football.

“As much as we talk about our playing days in college, we talk about our playing days at Winnona. We have a lot of fun with it,” said Guy Trawick. “Decatur was a community and that was something that gave us a good foundation for success.”

(Left to right) Bill, Lee, Steve, Don, and Guy Trawick stand on both sides of their mother (Eileen Evans Trawick) at the first football game that ETSU played after restarting its football program.

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