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Photography by Beth Mann


With UNC right up the road, many in Chatham follow the Tar Heels when football season arrives. But for a handful of families, UNC truly is their “home” team: seven coaches on UNC’s sideline on Saturdays call Chatham home the rest of the week. Life for a coaching family demands a lot. Together, they’ve moved 33 times, and their 17 kids were born in 13 different states.

When families can’t be in the stands, a favorite gathering spot is Fiona Kapilovic’s living room in Briar Chapel, decorated by interior designer Julie Wagner with rustic accents and extra benches and seats, perfect for a game day crowd. For big games, they treat themselves to catered bites from e5 Catering, run by neighbors Shane and Karen Entrekin, featuring easy finger foods. Shane once served as sous chef at Herons restaurant at The Umstead Hotel and Spa.

Crystal Gillespie

Married to Robert, Running Backs (13th season coaching)

Seasons in Chatham: First

Family: Nola, 7, Wynston, 6, Sadie, 3

Family moves: Three

Fun fact about me: I played volleyball at the University of South Carolina.

Game day food & drink: Buffalo chicken wing dip and margaritas!

What you love about Chatham: Friendly people, the schools, the outdoor activities.

Theresa Baker

Married to Henry, Cornerbacks (10th season coaching)

Seasons in Chatham: First

Family: Khari, 14, Kaila, 12, Khloe, 7

Family moves: Seven

Craziest game: A New Jersey state championship in December 2006. Our daughter (Kaila) was 4 months old and (Khari) was 2. The temperature at kickoff was minus 17 degrees! We bundled up, said a prayer and sat in the stands until halftime. This Miami girl hates the cold, but I’d do anything for
my husband!

Game day food & drink: Sausage, cheese and/or salsa dip; red wine or hard cider.

What we love about Chatham: My kids love Fearrington [Village]! They always want to visit
the cows.

Lauren Paschall

Married to Luke, Wide Receivers and Special Teams (13th season coaching)

Seasons in Chatham: First

Family: Emma Rose, 2 

Number of moves: Two

Fun fact about me: I work fulltime from home as a real estate planner for General Dynamics Information Technology, Inc.

Game day food & drink: Probably some kind of dip and wine or vodka/Vitamin Water.

Why you chose Chatham: It’s nice that several other coaching families live here, too. Our husbands work a lot. It’s nice to have people close who understand and are in the same boat.

What keeps you here: It is a great place for kids. We have a park for our daughter right down the street that we can walk to, there is a big pool with a splash pad, and it’s really close to her day care.

Fiona Kapilovic

Married to Chris, Offensive Coordinator/Line (26th season coaching)

Seasons in Chatham: Seven

Family: Carsen, 15, Colin, 11

Number of moves: Five

Fun fact about me: I am a half-country, half-city girl. Chatham seemed to be a great mix of both of those things.

Game day food & drink: Queso dip, stuffed mushrooms, burgers and margaritas.

Why you chose Chatham: I love the rural feel of Chatham but it’s still close to lots of city amenities in Chapel Hill, Durham and Raleigh. We love the diversity in Chatham and the welcoming nature of people here.

Barbie Ekeler

Married to Mike, Linebackers (17th season coaching)

Seasons in Chatham: First

Family: J.J., 18, Cameryn, 16, Abby, 15, Bella, 10

Number of moves: Seven

Game day food & drink: Any kind of dip you can put a chip in! Mountain Dew or a cold beer.

Why you chose Chatham: We found we could get more house for less money, and where we came from the high school was on a block system, and Northwood High School is the only one in the area on that system. We’ve come to love the neighborhood feel of The Preserve.

Jo Thigpen

Married to Tommy, Safeties (a former Tar Heel team captain and NFL player, now in his 20th season coaching)

Family: Asia, 13, Naja, 8

Seasons in Chatham: First year. We are renting in Briar Chapel while building a house in The Hamptons.

Number of moves: Five

Fun fact about me: I will be getting my real estate license soon.

Game day food & drink: For the early games, grapefruit mimosas. For later games, vodka and soda.

Why you chose Chatham: The beauty and the way the town is growing.

Brica Scott

Married to Chad, Tight Ends (12th season coaching)

Seasons in Chatham: Three

Family: Kori, 10, Kobe, 6

Number of moves: Four

Fun fact about me: I played basketball at the University of Kentucky. Chad played football there before transferring to UNC. We met in 2000 in the athletic tutorial center.

Game day food & drink: Lemon pepper chicken wings. The kids love lemonade, and I love Moscato!

What keeps you here: Friendly people, and our kids love Perry W. Harrison Elementary. CM

Read the original article from the October/November 2018 Issue:

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Chatham Magazine is a bi-monthly publication that seeks to capture the beauty, charm and unique character within Chatham County.


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