Staff Photo: Brandon BrigmanBuford's Rob Carlyle
Rob Carlyle, 38, is in his first year as head wrestling coach at Buford High School where he teaches history in the special education department. Carlyle is a 1994 Stockbridge graduate where he won a wrestling state championship. Carlyle spent eight years in the military -- four in the Navy, four in the Army -- before going to college. Carlyle is a 2007 graduate from Cumberland University where he got his bachelor's degree in history.
In this latest installment of "Getting To Know ... ," staff writer Brandon Brigman talks to Carlyle about his best Christmas gift, winning a state title and being 10 years older than his college teammates.
BB: Let's go ahead and get this out of the way. What was the best Christmas gift you got this year?
RC: I guess what it was, we got to fly out to Indiana to see my wife's family. I hadn't seen them in a while because I'm always busy wrestling. The way it worked out with the calendar I was able to fly out there for a couple of days. That was probably the better gift.
BB: What did you give your wife, Rachel?
RC: I got her a necklace from Kay Jewelers and a couple of other things, but I think that's the one she liked the most.
BB: This is your second time being a head coach. What made you want to be a head coach again?
RC: Well, the first time I was going back to get my specialist degree. I met my wife and we got married. I wanted to take a step back to finish my degree and get married. After being at Archer for two years and having that success, I had that bug back to be a head coach.
BB: What did you learn from Archer head coach Tom Beuglas in your two years there?
RC: I learned the things I was doing right with running practice. But I learned a lot about the administrative stuff. How to run a program, how to raise money, basically how to run a program from top to bottom.
BB: Did he teach you how to get a big chest and biceps like him?
RC: Yeah, but I didn't buy into it. (laughs) I guess he did and I taught him how to run.
BB: You were a state champion your senior year at Stockbridge. What do you remember about that match?
RC: It was against Ringgold. I remember a lot about that match. He had beat me in the semis on a controversial call by one point the year before. I came back and took fourth and he took second my junior year. I knew he was going to be the guy. All year we were one and two. He was one and I was two because he beat me the year before. I told my coach before I went out there I was going to beat him, I was going to beat him today. I just remember getting after him from the beginning to the end. I ended up beating him by four or five points. I remember how it felt afterward, winning a state title. It felt good. All the hard work you put into it.
BB: Do you still get goose bumps when you hear Phil Collins' "In The Air Tonight" at the state tournament?
RC: Oh yeah, every day. I have it -- this is kind of dorky -- I have a Phil Collins greatest hits, so I play it sometimes. It's exciting to hear it.
BB: What made you want to go the military route after high school and not straight to college?
RC: Well, I did go straight to college, but only for a semester. Academics and juggling all that, I guess I wasn't mature enough so I decided to go into the military. I knew I could wrestle in the military and I needed to grow up a little bit to tackle the academic part. I went to the Navy and got an opportunity to wrestle there. My plan was to get out of the Navy and go back to school. I was like 'I'll join the (National) Guard, too,' and then 9/11 happened. So I got pulled out of school was full time Army.
BB: What was your role during 9/11?
RC: I was a prison guard in Guantanamo Bay. I was there for a year. I was there in the early stages when they were picking up people from Afghanistan and Iraq. If you're affiliated with the Taliban or Al-Quada, you were going to GITMO. I was in the early stages of that, receiving all those guys coming in. It was kind of cool, but it was kind of a shocking experience, especially if you've never worked at a prison. Now you're working in a prison full of terrorists or people they claimed to be terrorists. It was a good experience.
BB: You went to Cumberland University when you were 30 and 31 years old. Was it weird being 10 years older than your teammates?
RC: It was tough. I realize, going back it helped me mature with my academics. I ended up with a 3.5 GPA. It was different. I realized I couldn't be the young guy and run with them anymore. As far as in the room, I did really well. I scrapped with everybody. I used to brag I didn't get injured a lot, then when I got to college you start feeling your age. It was tough, but it was a good experience.
BB: Was it tough being competitive at that age?
RC: I had to put in more work. I had to do the extra stuff. I couldn't take a break. If I did, they are younger. Now looking back on it, maybe I should have relaxed a little bit and maybe i wouldn't have gotten injured as much. It was difficult. We were NAIA, but we wrestled a Division I schedule, so I was wrestling national champions from Indiana and Nebraska. It was tough.
BB: So I know you like to CrossFit. What's your 'Fran' time?
RC: Oh man, don't ask me that. It's not very good. I think the best I've done is probably five minutes.
BB: What's tougher, a six-minute wrestling match or a CrossFit workout?
RC: Ooh. They are tough in their own way. To get ready for a six-minute match it would probably be good to do a CrossFit workout. They are both tough. I don't want to say one is tougher than the other. They both have their unique toughness.
BB: Buford principal Banks Bitterman used to be the head wrestling coach at Brookwood. Have you guys ever tried to wrestle?
RC: No, he's too big. But we have done some things in the hall where he will show me something. Then the football coach, Jess Simpson, will be like I have to take a picture of this, this is awesome. We talk about a lot of stuff, technique, what he did at Brookwood. I pick his brain a lot. He has a lot of coaching experience and he's an administrator, too, so he knows how to lead and how to get a program started.
BB: We just had the all-county tournament. Who would win if we had a coaches all-county tournament?
RC: At what weight?
BB: Free for all.
RC: Oh, I don't know. Uh, I think maybe (Archer assistant) Kyle McKee, he's crazy. He might win it if he doesn't fall apart.
BB: It's your first year at Buford, but how long do you see yourself here?
RC: As long as they'll have me. I like it here. I like the small school environment. I was at a smaller school before I went to Archer and I like that. I think we can build something here. We have about 40-50 youth. As long as we keep that going, I'll be here as long Dr. Bitterman doesn't get rid of me.