Bob Warman, 58, is the head golf coach at Collins Hill. The longtime Gwinnett County coach has spent the past 32 years coaching everything from baseball to football to slowpitch and fastpitch softball and golf.
In this installment of "Getting to Know..." staff writer Ben Beitzel talks with Warman about how he now spends his birthday, making the transition from Maryland to Phenix City, Ala., and the effects of coaching golf on his game.
BB: You just turned 58.
BW: March 10. At Apple Mountain (golf tournament). It always seems like Apple Mountain wants to have their tournament on my birthday, but it's alright. It's no problem.
BB: Well, how'd the team do?
BW: We played good. It was a 24-team tournament all day Saturday. We probably finished in the middle of the pack.
BB: OK. So I've got it right, run me through all you've coached. It's a long list.
BW: Oh yeah. Twenty-five years of baseball, 10 years of football, 10 years of girls softball and now, what, eight years of golf. So this is my 32nd year. Retirement is just around the corner, probably not too far off. Maybe when I'm 60.
BB: With all those sports, do you have a favorite?
BW: I enjoyed them all. Baseball was my first love. Baseball is what put me through college. I played baseball at Columbus State. Girls softball was fun because that was my first head coaching position. That was a different thing. Football, of course, I enjoyed football. I played football in high school, not college. But, you know, you get hired for football and you coach other things. At South Gwinnett I did football and baseball. Then, later on, I gave up the football to take over the softball. That was back when it was slowpitch. Then we went fastpitch and I was asked to go to Collins Hill and open it up and we went fastpitch.
It was all in Gwinnett County. A lot of people have different places, but all mine has been in Gwinnett County.
BB: Are you from here?
BW: No. I am from Columbus. Well, not from Columbus, I went to Columbus State.
BB: Where'd you go to high school?
BW: I went to high school 11 years in Maryland and then my dad retired from the military, he was an officer in the Army, and then we moved to Phenix City, Ala., just on the other side of the bridge from Columbus. So I went to Smith's Station High School in Alabama. It's one of the bigger schools in Alabama now. They were good in everything. My best year of high school sports was my senior year at Smith's Station High School.
BB: You just like it down south better?
BW: Everything just ... You're right, that's a good question. Every pass I dropped for three years in football, I caught everything at Smith's Station.
BB: Was the move from Maryland to Phenix City a tough one?
BW: Yeah. Yeah. The first day I got to Smith's Station High School I had a letter from my coach in Maryland saying, 'He's a pretty good athlete and he's very good in baseball.' So they dressed me out the first day that I was there and put me in uniform. They were playing the last game of the year before the state playoffs two nights later. The coach had me throw batting practice and then after the game, he took me out to the outfield and, excuse me, ran the (life) out of me to see what kind of shape I was in. He ran me from foul pole to foul pole, I guess it was about 10, 15 of them. I was dying. I hadn't run in a month and it was Alabama 80, 90 degree weather and they wore black and white so I had me a black windbreaker on. He's about 6-foot-6 and he had his kid up on his shoulders and he's watching me run. And then I died. I just died. The last one I ran I just hit the ground, I was out. We had a dirt infield so he had an old yellow bus that he used to drag the infield. He told me, 'Normally, I don't let anybody have a ride back to the fieldhouse, but this will be an exception, I will give you a ride so you can crawl in.' I crawled in and that was the beginning. Two nights later we were playing in the state playoffs and we were getting beat and he put me in the last inning to pitch and I walked the first guy, picked him off and struck out the next two.
The next year, that just set the tone. That was a long time ago.
BB: How long were you the head baseball coach at Collins Hill?
BW: I was the head baseball coach at Collins Hill the first nine years. I just got burnt out. And I went right to golf. I think golf was my second love and I went right into golf and I was calm in my decision. In 25 years of (baseball) you get ... you know, cutting grass, dragging fields, you get tired. This golf, it's just nice.
BB: What did you enjoy the most about baseball in all those years that surprised you?BW: The biggest thing is working with the kids and seeing them be successful. That is the biggest thing. When you have a kid that improves and gets better and he has a little taste of success. Especially the ones that go on to play in college, that makes me really appreciate what I do. The other thing is, I've missed a lot of coaches. The camaraderie you have with coaches and so on. I had a lot of friends in 25 years of coaching baseball. I went all the way through president of the Georgia Dugout Club. I went all the way from the bottom and worked my way all the way to the top. I coached the high school all-star game back when they had it in Athens. You just meet so many people. Coaching buddies. I miss all the coaching buddies. Competing against each other and going to clinics and hanging out. There is a big family in athletics, a big family in coaching that a lot of time people don't want to bring up.
BB: Do you still watch baseball?
BW: I watch it, yeah. But I am more into golf now than I'd ever thought I'd be. I live on a golf course. That's nice.
BB: Did you always play golf, or has that come later in life?
BW: I played probably since I was 12 years old, but nothing serious until I got into coaching.
BB: So are you at the top of your game now, at 58?
BW: Oh yeah. I parred four in a row today and that's all I played.
BB: Good time to stop.
BW: I am not into walking and carrying a bag. I am into a cart. That's what (the young kids) do.