Ron Elgin, 55, is an assistant softball coach at Collins Hill and an assistant baseball coach at Shiloh, where he also teaches part-time. Elgin, a past president of the Georgia Dugout Club, has coached high school baseball for 25 years (22 as head varsity coach) and high school football for 28. He and his wife, Andrea, have three children, including two daughters who graduated from Shiloh - Nicole (Class of 1999) and Tiffany (2002). In this latest installment of "Getting to Know...," the Chamblee resident and retired DeKalb County teacher talks with sports editor Will Hammock on a variety of topics, ranging from this season, his first coaching softball, to Wally Joyner to Collins Hill head coach Billy Dooley.
WH: You teach at Shiloh and coach at Collins Hill. Who do you pull for when those two play?
RE: That's never happened for me yet. I wouldn't know how to react to that. I would imagine I'd be for Shiloh since I've been here longer. Thankfully that's never happened.
WH: You do a lot of driving from your home in Chamblee to Shiloh and then to Collins Hill. What keeps you going, particularly going up to Collins Hill every day?
RE: A lot of caffeine (laughs). Coffee in the morning and Diet Cokes in the afternoon. I like the positive attitude at Collins Hill. It's not really cocky, just really sure of themselves. Other schools may perceive that as cockiness. With my son (a freshman at Auburn) going to Marist, they have the same attitude there. They're just sure of themselves and they take a really positive approach.
WH: Is it true you never coached softball before this year?
RE: This is it. This is my first year coaching softball for sure. I've had a pretty good year no doubt, but I've had some pretty good talent. I've done some fastpitch umpiring. I was a high school umpire for three years in softball. So I knew the game.
WH: Is it harder to umpire or coach softball?
RE: I guess it's harder to umpire really. You never satisfy everybody. That's the biggest part. A lot of decisions are being made spontaneously. You don't have time to think about it. In coaching you have more time to think about it a lot of the time. As an umpire it's harder because you're trying to get everything right you can. It's a lot of reaction.
WH: How much does it help coaching teen softball players by having daughters of your own?
RE: I think it helps out a lot, especially with some of the problems the girls come up with. You know how to deal with them. In fact I've got two health classes this block with all girls. Even though guys don't bother me, I tend to relate to the girls pretty well. Having two girls of my own, it's just something you get used to.
WH: Collins Hill coach Billy Dooley told me the players always say what a "cute old man" you are. What do you think of that?
RE: I just kind of laugh it off. I just call myself old man. I guess it just rubs off. Those kids are really good kids. I've really enjoyed coaching them and showing them the way a little bit. But they know more about the game than I ever will.
WH: What do you usually do in the fall if you're not coaching softball?
RE: Probably most likely nothing. One year at Shiloh I coached ninth-grade football. Usually I just try to get rested up for baseball to start in February.
WH: What is it you love about baseball?
RE: I guess working with the kids. The little things, not necessarily the big things about the game itself. I enjoy teaching them the game. A lot of players don't know the game these days. So I enjoy teaching the kids. And I like the behind the scenes stuff, things you see and just react to.
WH: Who's the best high school baseball player you've seen?
RE: I've seen quite a few (pauses). (Current Cincinnati Red and Redan grad) Brandon Phillips was quite a player. I'll tell you, the kid that played at Redan also, (longtime California Angel) Wally Joyner. He was a pretty good player. A lot of people don't realize he was an outstanding basketball player, too. He was a point guard at Redan, left-handed, a really good player. Bruno Williams, a kid I had at Lakeside, went to Southern University and played four years. He was a really good player. I've seen some good players for sure.
WH: You didn't mention Billy Dooley. You must have never seen him play at Collins Hill. That guy was a beast.
RE: I never saw him play (laughs). I couldn't tell you if he was good or not. But he does a tremendous job with those girls in softball. Those girls love him to death. And when he puts his foot down, they straighten up in a hurry.
WH: What's your favorite food?
RE: I love pizza.
WH: I heard you like biscuits a lot.
RE: That's a joke I have with our players. When they can't hit it over the fence, that's what I tell them, "You need to eat one more biscuit in the morning." We have fun with that.
WH: You put a lot of miles on the road each day, what kind of car do you drive?
RE: I've got a '99 Ford Ranger truck, which is outstanding. I get great gas mileage. It gets me where I'm going and that's all I need.
WH: What was your first car?
RE: A 1959 Plymouth Fury with a push button automatic transmission. That was my first car. It was like a tank. It was white with blue interior.
WH: I bet the ladies loved that.
RE: I didn't care about the ladies back then. I just cared about baseball.
WH: How long do you see yourself coaching?
RE: I tell you what, as long as I enjoy it and as long as I can get around. They may have to wheel me off the field. I just love it. I really do. It keeps me active. It keeps my mind fresh. I don't want to burden anybody, but I want to do it a long time. Look at "Chief" (longtime Parkview assistant Roy Massey) at Parkview, he's been doing it forever. He's been doing it longer than me.