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Father, son help keep Coolray Field running

Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Gary Hoopaugh and his son Corey have worked together at Coolray Field for the past three Gwinnett Braves seasons. Although they have different tasks at the ballpark Gary a facility maintenance manager and Corey a grounds crew assistant, they have really bonded on the commute to and from work.

Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Gary Hoopaugh and his son Corey have worked together at Coolray Field for the past three Gwinnett Braves seasons. Although they have different tasks at the ballpark Gary a facility maintenance manager and Corey a grounds crew assistant, they have really bonded on the commute to and from work.

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Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Grounds crew assistant Corey Hoopaugh removes a batting practice net from Coolray Field prior to the Gwinnett Braves and Columbus Clippers game in Lawrenceville on Friday.

LAWRENCEVILLE -- As Coolray Field's facilities manager, Gary Hoopaugh does a little bit of everything -- electrical work, plumbing, carpentry, HVAC.

"Whatever needs to be done to keep the place running efficiently and looking good," the Winder resident said.

His work does not include overseeing the grounds crew, the small handful of Gwinnett Braves employees that keep the actual ball field looking sharp. That makes the task of not looking over his son's shoulder a little bit easier.

Corey Hoopaugh, 19, has been a member of the Coolray Field grounds crew since the 2010 season, joining the staff his father has been on since the G-Braves made their pilgrimage south to Gwinnett.

It's a unique situation, but the elder Hoopaugh swears he doesn't pepper his son's bosses for information on his work ethic.

"Occasionally behind the scenes I might ask," Gary Hoopaugh said, "but so far so good. As far as just hounding, I try not to interfere."

Said Corey: "It's my third season. I know how to act, what to do."

The Hoopaughs are a baseball family.

The kids grew up watching their dad play competitive softball even before they started enjoying the game themselves. Corey Hoopaugh played some collegiate ball at Gordon College and Georgia Gwinnett College, his father said.

When Gary landed the gig with the Gwinnett Braves, Corey following suit seemed like a natural fit. Corey's brother will soon be graduating with a degree in communications from Kennesaw State, and it's likely he'll be trying to stick around a baseball team somewhere as well.

"We really all grew up playing around the ballfield somewhere," Gary Hoopaugh said. "And it's kind of ironic that now we're still at the ballfield, not playing but working and making a living out of it."

More often than not, Gary and Corey ride to work together, both for "normal" eight-hour days and the typical 14- to 16-hour game days. Corey gets to stash his lunch in the fridge in dad's office.

"Actually I think it seems like we've become closer," Gary said. "We'll stop and have breakfast and talk in the car. But once we get (to Coolray) we kind of go our different ways other than an occasional passing in the tunnel and a punch in the arm."

Corey is looking to start criminal justice classes at Athens Technical College in the fall, and doesn't plan on making groundskeeping a career. For the time being, though, he's got a pretty good job and one pretty familiar coworker.

"It's fun," he said. "He's my dad."