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Getting to Know ... John Werle

John Werle, 36, is the head baseball coach at Hebron Christian Academy and started the program back in 1997.

In this latest installment of "Getting to Know...," Werle talks with staff writer Corey Clark about a variety of topics, from his current team to his least favorite movie to his childhood days in Panama City, Fla.

CC: Did you play any other sports in high school?

JW: I played basketball in high school (Mosley High in Panama City) and that's it. I didn't do football. They were too big.

CC: You had some serious players down there during your time, too?

JW: Yeah, those were the years of Emmitt Smith and Derrick Brooks.

CC: Oh come on man, you could have tackled Emmitt Smith, no problem.

JW: (Laughs) Yeah I could have and I would be in traction still.

CC: Did you ever get to see (famous Pensacola product) Roy Jones, Jr. fight?

JW: He was in Pensacola and I got to see him fight live. I actually played basketball in a pickup game with him.

CC: How did that work out for ya?

JW: Oh he dunked it.

CC: On you?

JW: Oh yeah. It was a facial. It was impressive. I didn't even know who he was until afterwards. I just knew he was a really quick left-handed guard, and he had hops you could not believe.

CC: Do you get to see your two boys (Garvin, 9, and Dylan, 4) play ball very much?

JW: Unfortunately no. That's the drawback of the job. But my 9-year-old eats, sleeps and breathes the game. And my 4-year-old already recognizes John Smoltz on TV.

CC: So are you one of those dads that pushes their kids into a particular sport?

JW: No, they just enjoy being around me I think. And (Garvin) tried every sport, but since he first put a glove on he has loved baseball.

CC: Can they be as good as the old man though?

JW: Honestly, I think both of them are going to be better. Hopefully anyway, if I do my job right. The 4-year-old has an uncanny ability to hit anything he is throwing at. He can throw at anything. (Laughs) It's like John Elway.

CC: Was it love at first sight for you and your wife (Kathy)?

JW: We met at a Sunday school class at Hebron ... and no, she played hard to get. I didn't actually know she even liked me until later on ... but once we started talking, everything lit up pretty quick.

CC: How tough is it to coach when your team is losing so much (Hebron is 3-15 on the season)? Does it take a toll on you?

JW: It does wear on you emotionally as a coach. Not because of the losing, but knowing that the talent is there. You want it so bad for them. You want it so bad for them to get a taste of victory. But when it does click, when it does happen, it makes it worthwhile.

CC: What is your least favorite movie?

JW: Oh gosh, I don't know. Start naming chick flicks.

CC: Ummm ... any Meg Ryan movie. "Sleepless in Seattle," "You've got Mail," ...

JW: Go with "Sleepless in Seattle." That works for me.

CC: OK, what's your favorite movie then?

JW: It's a close tie between "Remember the Titans" and "Facing the Giants."

CC: Do you remember the first girl you had a crush on?

JW: Yes, it was one of the neighborhood young ladies. We were both like 8 or 9. We were the same age and I would ride the bike down the dirt road and we'd hang out all day together.

CC: Anything every come of that?

JW: (Laughs) No, she was just a good friend before you realize you're not supposed to hang out with girls. And by the time I realized that she was off with someone else.

CC: What was the best advice you ever got?

JW: My grandfather gave it to me. Gosh, how did he put it? When you ask a question, be ready to hear the answer.

CC: Have any plans for summer break?

JW: Rest ... and to see the folks back in Panama City.

CC: Growing up in Panama City, did you wear a lot of airbrush t-shirts?

JW: (Laughs) No, those were for the tourists. I used to work out at Shipwreck Island (waterpark) and those are just for the tourists, I promise.

CC: Did you always know you wanted to be a coach?

JW: Umm, I always had the passion to compete, especially now that my body isn't quite able to do it anymore. And I always had the passion to teach. I love to explain something to a level where the light bulb goes off and you have that ah-hah moment. To me, that's what a great coach is, is a great teacher. And so I always wanted to do that.

CC: Do you see yourself at Hebron for a long time?

JW: Yeah, I like the private school. Not only in impacting the kids' lives and teaching and coaching, but being able to address their lives and how to live right without having to worry about the repercussions of offending someone. That opportunity will always be there at Hebron, where it might not be there at other places.