PLYMOUTH – The Plymouth football program is proud of its “family” connection between its members. In one case that family connection is literal.
Bob and Kevin Garrity are both members of John Barron’s staff, son Kevin a graduate and three-sport athlete at Plymouth, Dad Bob a 1979 graduate of Rensselaer High School.
“I was a swimmer and played football in high school,” said Bob. “Swimming was probably my main sport. I was a skinny wide receiver in football. I wasn’t very good.”
Bob was good at teaching and came to Plymouth to start his career in 1985. He spent 21 years coaching football at Lincoln Jr. High, where he teaches science. He spent some years as the head swimming coach at Plymouth high school before joining Barron’s staff.
After playing baseball at Taylor University Kevin also made his way back to Plymouth to start his teaching career, also at Lincoln where he teaches humanities. He joined both Ryan Wolfe’s baseball staff and Barron’s football staff.
The first thing that father and son agree on is the demands of the job.
“I decided I needed to stop coaching swimming when I joined the football staff,” said Bob. “I didn’t get into swimming until most of my kids were out of school and I felt like I had the time. My responsibilities in football when I moved to the high school were a lot greater and I felt like I should give up swimming.”
Kevin also decided to stay with football alone.
“It was a hard decision to make,” he said. “Coaching both sports is a huge commitment for the whole year. I just felt that starting a family I didn’t want to be gone that much so I decided to stay with football.”
Both also agree on the benefit of teaching at the junior high level while coaching at the high school.
“It’s fun watching kids mature as they grow older and move on to the high school,” said Bob. “That’s the best part for me is watching them grow up and being an influence as they do.”
“It’s good to have contact with them from the junior high all the way through high school,” said Kevin. “You get to know them when they are younger and it gives you an insight when they get older and you are coaching them. You already have a relationship with them.”
While there are many father-son combinations on the sidelines in any sport, the combination of both being assistants, as well as being position coaches on the same side of the ball is unique. So do they get along on the field as well? It appears so.
“John (Barron) has been doing this a long time,” said Kevin. “He’s got a good structure of responsibilities for each of us and a clear pecking order.”
“Kevin came up in the system so he knows it very well,” said Bob. “Because of that, he was able to come in and fit right into the staff.”
Both are coaches on the offensive side of the ball. It appears they even agree during practice.
“Yes, there are times when he’ll say something and I’ll think ‘what is he trying to say there?'” said Bob. “It’s about communication and making sure that you communicate with each other away from the players.”
“We spend a good amount of time going over things as a staff,” said Kevin. “Just to make sure miscommunication doesn’t happen.”
“There is really a good mix of younger guys and older guys on the staff,” said Kevin. “There’s a lot of guys who’ve been there and been around and it makes sure there aren’t any issues. Especially at Plymouth. Most of us played here and we know what the expectation is on and off the field.”
“I think all the teams in our conference have a kind of family feel,” said Bob. “Most of the schools are single community schools making single community teams. I think that lends itself to that feeling of family with all the teams in our conference.”
They also seem to agree off the field.
“We are always talking football,” said Kevin. “At family gatherings whenever we get together. It’s good to be able to share ideas.”
Getting the most out of players is the goal of every coach and being one of the young assistant coaches Kevin gets to be “good coach” or a sounding board for the players.
“Well, I guess that depends on who you talk to,” he said with a laugh. “That’s really something that every young coach has to work on. You have to know how to get your message across and be accessible.”
“Sometimes you have to let the colts run before you can break them,” said Bob. “There are times when you have to give a kid a little room to vent before you bring them to where you want them.”
“That’s one of the good things of working for John,” said Kevin. “He’s not afraid to give you input, but he’s not afraid to let us coach.”