The long time Plymouth assistant Bob Girten decided it was time to retire and be with his family, and with one son in Michigan and one in Indianapolis, it requires a move.
Last Thursday night those whose lives he’s touched decided to show their appreciation with a ‘Bobby G. Parade’ in front of his home to say thank you. Family members, players, and coaches, past and present, lined up at Plymouth High School and then headed for Girten’s house in this time of social distancing.
“It was very touching. I teared up over it,” he said. “I never expected anything like that.”
“I was thankful to have him on board the last several years,” said Plymouth head coach Ryan Bales. “He was a great fit for our staff and program because it was never about him. He was a program-first and player-first guy who was always very loyal.
“He impacted many players along the way simply from making himself available to rebound for anyone or simply be a listener for them. He will be missed for these reasons, but I am excited for him in his next journey to spend more time with his family.”
“I personally will miss his friendship, all the laughs and jokes that we shared, talking basketball, personnel, strategy, personal issues,” said Plymouth assistant coach Tony Plothow. “I know what he meant to so many players, coaches and students over the years including my own kids. I’m glad we were able to show him at least a small bit of our appreciation for what he’s meant to so many.”
Girten was a mainstay in the Plymouth program on the sidelines first with Everett Wallace at the junior high level and was a JV coach at LaVille for Michael Edison. He then came back to the Plymouth system coaching the fifth grade Washington Wildcats.
A call from Scott Michel, who was then the freshman coach for PHS, brought him to the high school level.
“He called me and said he needed some help,” said Girten. “I thought, why not? I’ve been here ever since.”
Girten became an assistant at the JV level shortly thereafter and the rest, as they say, is history.
Girten got involved for a very simple reason.
“I just like kids,” he said. “I’m not really much of a coach. I mean really my job is just to rebound shots in practice, but the kids are great. Over the years I’ve had a chance to bond with some of them and hopefully, they’ll get in touch from time to time. I love the other coaches on the staff too. They are just a bunch of really great guys. Great people to work with.”
Girten was a great athlete himself, being a big part of the programs of two Hall of Fame coaches at Plymouth – Jack Edison in basketball and Bill Nixon in baseball.
“When you play for guys like Jack Edison and Bill Nixon it’s just something special to have been a part of that,” he said. “Most of the kids today don’t really know who those guys were and you try to get through to them what it was like to play for guys like that.”
And play with guys like his teammates in school.
“We had some great teams, some great players, guys like Gary Myers and Kevin Weidner, some really great teams,” he said. “Those were really good times. It was a lot of fun.”
Girten is looking forward to retirement.
“I was tired of a mortgage payment. I’ve got some lower back trouble and I feel like I haven’t spent enough time with my sons,” he said. “I want to spend some time with my grandkids. I am really excited about the next part of my life.”
But he will miss one thing.
“I will miss the kids and the other coaches,” he said. “I’ve rebounded a lot of their shots over the years. I really hope they have the success they deserve.”
With many memories from his playing and coaching days, a recent one does stand out.
“Ryan Bales, first sectional title, with Mack Mercer and David Lee and all those guys,” he said. “They were a really special bunch and that was a special moment.
“Everybody is still going to see me around. I’ll be out there at football games from time to time. I won’t be running the chains, but I’m sure I’ll sneak down there once or twice.
“I’m going to miss the gym every Friday and Saturday night, but I’ll still be there a lot. I still bleed red.”
His plans for this particular day are a little simpler.
“I’m going out on the river with my son,” he said. “I’m going