Photo: David McGregor . Central Gwinnett head coach Todd Wofford is silhouetted by the morning sunrise before the start of the Touchdown Club of Gwinnett golf tournament at Summit Chase Country Club on Monday.
SNELLVILLE -- In this day and age, being a high school football coach is pretty much a year-round job.
That workload makes outings like the second annual Gwinnett Football Fellowship Golf Tournament, which was held Monday at Summit Chase Country Club, a welcome diversion, especially with the official beginning of preseason practice for the 2011 season just three weeks away.
But it's more than just a day on the links that appeals to the county's head coaches and selected members of their respective staffs, who were hosted at the event by Sports Medicine South and the Touchdown Club of Gwinnett.
"This caps off vacation," North Gwinnett head coach Bob Sphire said. "You don't usually get too many chances to do this. Too much of the focus is on the competition instead of the camaraderie. This kind of brings that out, which is nice."
Camaraderie was definitely the theme of the day, so much so that even the sudden localized heavy rains that cut the tournament a few holes short didn't ruin the coaches' day.
Even coaches who were unable to participate in the golf, like Mark Crews of defending Class AAAAA state champion Brookwood, weren't about to miss the post-golf lunch for a chance to break bread and share the company of his fellow coaches.
"We had youth camps going on (at Brookwood), so I went over there to help them get started," Crews said. "I was going to come back here this morning, but I ran into a few road blocks.
"I coached wrestling for a long time, and you'd hang around in gyms and you'd be in hospitality rooms with all these other (coaches). So, there was a whole lot more camaraderie from the coaches' standpoint. In football, a lot of these guys, the only time you see them is when you walk across the field (after a game) and shake hands. So it's good to do things like this."
Of course, there are other tangible benefits for each of Gwinnett's programs from Monday's outing.
"We raised a bunch of money to help our kids with scholarships at the end of the year," said Dave Hunter, who is entering his 10th and final season as president of the Touchdown Club of Gwinnett. "It will help with our (Touchdown) Club functions. It's been a good time. (Tournament director) Dr. (Gary) Levengood has really done a good job."
While a good time was had by all, the coaches' focuses now turn to the upcoming season, which is rapidly approaching.
Teams will conclude offseason workouts over the next two weeks, with another week of conditioning leading up to the official first day of practice Aug. 1.
And it won't be long until the first set of regular season games Aug. 19 and 20, where all teams will begin their quests for a state title, one Brookwood and Class AA champion Buford reached last season.
"That's a tall order," Crews said. "I guess you start every year with great aspirations. I think we've got a good bunch coming back, but there are so many things that go into the kind of success we had last year. ... So many good things have to happen."