Bobby Gruhn was the catalyst behind the Gainesville High football program for more than three decades as its head coach from 1963-1992, winning 254 games, 16 region championships and numerous state semifinal appearances.
With the first class of the Gainesville Athletics Hall of Fame, Gruhn will be first coach inducted. His son Matthew wrote a column talking about the meaning behind having his father, who died in 1995, inducted with some the Red Elephants’ greats.
The ceremony takes place Saturday at Scott’s Downtown in Gainesville. Six athletes, along with the 1956-57 Fair Street High back-to-back state championship teams will also be recognized.
How wonderfully blessed I am to have had Bobby and Jean Gruhn as my parents. I often think of them and especially this week, as my dad and many others are being inducted into the Gainesville High School Athletics Hall of Fame. This is a huge honor and one I know that my dad would have been very humbled by and thankful for. As I reflect about him and his impact on me, Gainesville High, and this whole community, there are three areas that I saw up close every day with our family. I believe he consistently did these with his teams and the school that he loved so dearly.
My dad had very high standards on values and morals. He believed in doing the right thing and expected others to do the right thing as well. If you did not meet those standards, well, let’s just say you were more than likely to meet them in the future. There were not too many “grey areas.” He kept it plain and simple. This was evident in many areas, but certainly exemplified in the car. His ring was very powerful. There were many occasions, where I was hoping that he would just “let some things slide,” but unfortunately that was not to be the case.
His ability to consistently live those high standards and to hold others accountable to those standards impacted more people than he ever dreamed.
My dad placed a huge premium on the value of people. He had high expectations of every player, but without a doubt valued the person over their performance. There were many times I felt discouraged for my lack of performance, but I never felt unworthy, I always felt a strong belief from my dad, no matter the result. I truly believe this allowed me and others to consistently improve and play with a joy and love of the game that no result could diminish. His love of Gainesville High School was certainly felt, not just on the football field, but in every aspect of the school. No matter what group you were a part of, he was there to drive the bus or take you to Western Sizzlin. He valued and desired for every program and kid to be successful.
My dad was very good at what he did. He was a great husband, father, football coach, (I’m not sure how great a golf coach he was) and a leader of people. His work ethic was tremendous, and his desire to be great was outstanding. He had an uncanny ability to pursue greatness in his profession, but at the same time, be very present at home. I never once felt cheated by how much time he spent perfecting his craft. Somehow, his purpose for doing what he did and how he did those things never changed.
Pretty amazing for being in the teaching and coaching profession for 39 years.
In conclusion, when I think of my dad and his impact on Gainesville High, I don’t think all of the awards, recognitions, and honors truly validate him. They are nice and he would be very thankful, and probably a tad bit embarrassed by all of it. His unconditional love for Gainesville and his unconditional love for kids is why he was able to make such a big impact — plain and simple. I know this first hand, because I was the recipient of this unconditional love for 25 years.
Matthew Gruhn is a Gainsesville resident, as well as the head coach of the Lakeview Academy varsity football team.