Staff Photo: Jonathan Phillips. Brookwood's Daniel Bowles is in his first season as head boys basketballcoach at his alma mater. The 1998 Brookwood grad played for longtime Bronco
head coach Eddie Martin.
Daniel Bowles, 29, was hired in April as just the third boys basketball coach in Brookwood history, replacing Craig Witmer, who took over for longtime Bronco coach Eddie Martin.
The 1998 Brookwood grad began his coaching career at the college level for Southern Poly and then coached at Chattahoochee and South Cobb, where he was the head boys coach the previous three seasons. A math teacher, Bowles' parents are both in education -- his mother Martha works at Georgia Perimeter College and his father Dan also teaches math at Brookwood.
In this latest installment of "Getting to Know...," Bowles talks with sports editor Will Hammock about working at his alma mater, the long drive from Woodstock and Brookwood principal Debbie Dees.
WH: Now that you've done it for a few months, what's it like teaching and coaching at your alma mater?
DB: I think it's pretty neat for me after being around Brookwood from the time I was a little kid. All I wanted to do was play basketball there. It was neat for me growing up with it and the neat part is having Craig and Eddie being the only two coaches. There are a lot of traditions with it. And having seen Ryan Amestoy and a lot of the later teams with (Brent) Martin, (Brett) Huckle, (Michael) Vega, Channing (Toney), to see that history and what they've done gives me a good perspective. The other side is you get the pressure to keep it going.
WH: I assume the school's changed quite a bit from when you were there.
DB: It has. There are new buildings and it's so much bigger. But some small stuff doing with school has changed, too. The schedules, how they do lunches, small changes. But everything else is the same. The thing that amazes me coming from two other high schools is the amount of school spirit. On Friday night football dressing up. From the teachers. That's a neat thing. That tradition is a neat part, everybody being happy to be there.
WH: You said a lot of the teachers have changed from when you were there. You've still got (former coach Eddie's wife) Malinda Martin there.
DB: It's funny because Malinda was teaching and when I was there (Brookwood principal) Debbie (Dees) was girls basketball coach.
WH: Did you see principal in Coach Dees back then?
DB: We knew she had that discipline streak back then, the way she got those girls to work.
WH: From everything I hear, she's a great principal.
DB: She's great to work for. All the teachers love her and love working for her. That's nice. It's easier to work, knowing she's there behind you.
WH: You teach in the same math department with your dad. That's pretty unique.
DB: It is neat. The thing I tell my friends is as much as I love being here at Brookwood, my dad loves it more. In my three years at South Cobb, I can count on one hand how many games my parents missed. It was hard for them, driving out past Six Flags or Kennesaw or wherever, driving in Friday traffic. They never missed my games. Last year for Christmas I had to buy my dad a Garmin (GPS device) because he kept getting lost. But as excited as I was to come here, they were pretty excited, too.
WH: I never had your dad as a teacher, but I remember him from always being on parking lot duty.
DB: He's retired from parking lot duty. He's no longer in the parking lot. And he's OK with it. He gets to do the same things inside during the day.
WH: Do people remember him as the parking lot guy?
DB: They do. In my years and even buddies who were behind me in school, he was always the parking lot guy. That's what some people remember him for.
WH: Will there be many changes to Brookwood basketball with you having ties to both previous coaches?
DB: I love all the tradition. There are a few small things we'll change. For the most part it won't be on purpose. The style of play is going to change a little bit. A lot of that is the type of kids we've had. We're really small. The things I have done the past few years as head coach we'll use. We'll get up and down a lot and add more offensive freedom. But a lot of that's just a product of our team. I may talk to you next year and that will change. That's the neat thing about high school basketball, it changes so much. But last night at our Tipoff Club meeting, it went so smooth. Everyone knew what to expect. You just slide right into it. The kids know it too and that's neat. Coach (Allen) Prince and Coach (Kent) Doerhman told me how much winning the Deep South title meant to them last year. I can look at the region title. We haven't won one since 1996, my sophomore year. That makes it easier as coach, knowing that tradition. I can say, the last time we won the region championship, I was there.
WH: I covered you in high school, but for those who didn't see you, what kind of player were you. A big offensive guy, right?
DB: As a coach I am. As a player, I wasn't too good offensively. I was an undersized post player. To even get a chance to get on the floor I had to play harder than everyone else. In college I was listed at 6-4, 6-5, and I'm maybe 6-2 going against 6-7s and 6-8s. I had to fight and grab and everything else to get stuff done. We're trying to do the same thing here. Instead of 6-2 vs. 6-8 we're 5-8 vs. 6-2. The good thing is they've never seen me play, either, so I can say, "Guys I was a good player."
WH: Do you still play a lot?
DB: I played in a couple of leagues. A buddy talked me into one two years ago, it was a league in Buckhead. The first game we played against (former Tech and NBA star) Dennis Scott and after that I figured I better stick to more recreational.
WH: You coached at the college level. What brought you back to high school?
DB: In college, there was always a lot of uncertainty. You look at a lot of places, guys are trying to move to the next level. Mid-major guys want to go to a higher level, lower level coaches want to go to mid-majors. With recruiting, every year's totally different. The neat thing about high school, especially Brookwood, you get to watch something and see how it changes and grows. Even at South Cobb last year, fifth grade through varsity practiced in one gym. You get to see those kids grow. That almost kept me at south cobb. Those juniors, I saw them as eighth-graders. That's the unique thing in high school. I can still see my kids that played for me at South Cobb and Chattahoochee and you hope you had a small part in molding them into what they're doing now.
WH: Do you still call Coach Martin by that name, or is he Eddie?
DB: He's still coach most of the time. It's just like high school. When he's not around he's always Eddie. But when he's around, he's coach.
WH: He's considered one of the best coaches in the state, what did you learn from him?
DB: The biggest thing you take and with Eddie and the guy I played for in college and others, you appreciate them more after you're not around them. When I went off to college, me and Jeff Pourchier went down to LaGrange. We felt we were more prepared than a lot of other guys on our team. Whether it was fundamentals, knowledge of the game, we had a leg up on the other guys. That was Eddie. He's very organized, very demanding. He's a little bit of a perfectionist, doing things the right way. The little things are big. As I've gotten into the profession, it's easier and easier to talk to him. As players, there was always that little intimidating factor around him. But there were times in my career when I was looking around (for jobs), he was there to help me out and guide me with some tough decisions. That's been pretty neat how the relationship has changed from a player to that.
WH: Is Brookwood the place you'll be for a long time?
DB: I think it is. It's funny, when I first started in coaching I didn't know where I wanted to be. The South Cobb job was a sudden thing, in the middle of the summer. I got a call. I never expected go there for three years. I started thinking this is where I could be for a while. But one phone call changed that. I think this is a place I'd love for my kids to go to school and I'd love living in the community. Thomas Higginbotham, our junior guard, his brother Terence is in the ninth grade here and his brother Trey is in the fifth grade. To see stuff like that it's kind of neat. I had a great conversation, with Charlie Hood of Marietta (30-plus years as coach there). He looked out and said, "I coached his dad, his dad, his mom in my class." Charlie was there so long he became a part of Marietta. I think that's neat. Brookwood's a place you can do something similar with the strong community.
WH: If you can put up with that drive from Woodstock (where his house is for sale). What way do you go home?
DB: I go 78 to 285, up 75 to Kennesaw and cut over. Some days I take the scenic route. In the morning I can make it in 45 minutes. In the afternoon it's a crap shoot, depending on accidents, weather, Friday rush hour.
WH: What's the longest it's taken?
DB: Probably a little bit over two hours. One day it was two and a half hours. I tried to take the shortcut, but it didn't work. I didn't know the shortcut so I got lost. I was on the phone with my wife and she was saying, "Where are you?"
WH: You've got to get that house sold.
DB: That's a big goal. If you can throw that in the paper for me, that would be a big help.