Jason Tester's route to becoming a head football coach in Georgia started in Michigan.
After coaching at his alma mater, Muskegon Catholic Central, in 1991, he found his way to Georgia with stops at St. Pius X, Eastside, Grayson, Flowery Branch (twice) and Brookwood.
But the most intriguing part of his career happened in 2016 in Michigan.
Tester had just taken over as defensive coordinator at St. Pius X when he was alerted about a head coaching vacancy at Grand Haven in Michigan. He immediately jumped at the possibility. It was close to home and as he called it, "his dream job."
He was offered, and accepted, the job with the hopes his wife had nailed down a job in a neighboring district. His wife's offer fell through.
With Tester already too deep to walk away from Grand Haven, he had a choice to make. He stayed, and his wife went back to Georgia.
"It was tough," he said. "I was doing everything that I had dreamed to do of getting that program moving in the right direction, but my family wasn't with me."
That only lasted one season, and Tester returned to Georgia to teach and coach at Grayson High School.
But things sometimes happen for a reason, and the following season, as fate would have it, Tester found himself at Flowery Branch as an assistant coach on Ben Hall's staff.
Tester, however, still had the itch to lead a defense and was presented with the opportunity to become the defensive coordinator at Brookwood a couple of years later. Tester said Hall was very supportive of his decision to leave for the Broncos.
"He said, if I was you, I'd take it," Tester said.
Tester stayed at Brookwood until Hall came calling last summer with an offer to be the Falcons' defensive coordinator. Tester couldn't turn down the guy who was so supportive of his decision to leave for Brookwood. So, he returned to The Branch last season.
The circle is now complete as Tester was named Flowery Branch's fourth head coach on Tuesday morning. He replaces Ben Hall, who left for the same post at Oconee County.
Athletic director Jimmy Lawler said he is very happy about the future of Flowery Branch football with Tester at the helm.
"We had a lot of quality people call the last couple of weeks as word was leaking out, but Dr. [Jason] Carter and I knew that as soon as Ben informed us, that Jason Tester was going to be an excellent choice right here in our building," Lawler said. "He's a character guy. I love what he's done with our defense since he's been here. He loves kids and is in it for the right reasons. I'm very happy about the future of Flowery Branch football with Jason Tester leading us."
More times than not, the new head coach usually comes from another school. In this case, Tester knows the program and feels the transition will be smooth. He also credits Hall for building a solid culture at Flowery Branch and says he'll continue to build on the culture that's already in the building.
"The path is there for us," he said. "We've got a few things we've need to address as far as key positions, but the true sign of how we've got things going in the right direction is I haven't had to post anything, and there's been contact left and right about people interested in coaching spots. Again, that's a credit to these kids and coach Hall, and what Flowery Branch is all about."
The transition may be smoother than usual, but Tester will look to put his mark on the program. He says he'll continue to build on the culture Hall has already established.
"We take pride in doing the little things right," he said. "Our culture will one predicated on making sure our core values are what our focus is. We want our players to evolve and grow into good human beings. We want our parents to trust us in what we do with them and know they're in good hands."
The Falcons will open the 2022 campaign at Decatur on Aug. 19.