Lauren and Jimmy Gault are a newly married pair of educators with vastly different personalities.
Lauren is a social butterfly, while Jimmy doesn’t mind his alone time.
However, they are bound by one common goal at West Hall High: make the world a better place, through sports, and find a way where students of all abilities can be included.
“They are both, at the end of the day, both wonderful people,” Spartans athletics director David Wagner said. “They’re the kind of people you want in your school building and working with the students.”
Jimmy Gault teaches history and is in his second year as the boys varsity soccer coach, while his wife of four months, Lauren, works with students with special needs and Friday was named the new softball coach for West Hall.
Jimmy said his wife will flourish in her new role with the softball program at West Hall. She takes over after Brannon Humphries who stepped down to focus on coaching the baseball program at West Hall.
“Lauren is going to do an amazing job with the softball program,” Jimmy said. “She has a really strong group of players coming up from the middle school and has a great group of assistant coaches who all work well together.”
For Lauren, her combination of education and coaching is a lifelong dream come true.
“I’m over the moon to be doing exactly what I wanted to do with my life since I was younger,” said Lauren, who was an assistant softball coach with the Lady Spartans for four years.
Having a couple meet, marry and both serve as varsity coaches is something Wagner said he’s never seen previously witnessed in his 23 years of working in education. However, it’s how the Gaults combine their strengths is what really makes their contribution unique and so greatly appreciated in Oakwood.
While Jimmy is hard at work with the soccer program after school, Lauren is giving her students an outlet to help with behind-the-scenes responsibilities, while also building job skills through service work with the program.
Now that Lauren is head coach in softball, Jimmy said he’ll certainly be a much more regular presence during the 2021 softball season for the Lady Spartans.
Jimmy, who met Lauren when they carpooled together to a football game in 2017 at Rabun County, said everything is a blessing.
“The way everything has worked out was never in the plans, but it’s like a dream come true,” Jimmy said.
However, it’s soccer season which really stands out for this couple.
In soccer, Jimmy can coach the strategy and focus on the 80 minutes on the game clock.
Lauren’s students handle the work behind the scenes.
The special-needs students, who are interested in being involved, are busy maintaining the concession stand, ticket taking, preparing gameday bags for players, handling pregame meals and even making sure the jerseys are cleaned, among other things.
Lauren, who also works with the Special Olympics, has seen her students, who may have been reserved before getting involved, come out of their shells.
In fact, she said, a few of her students have taken ownership of gameday duties.
Jimmy, like any high school coach, will point out that the majority of the job is what goes on behind the scenes.
For that, he has tremendous gratitude for his wife’s selfless spirit and students who are always willing to chip in.
“I am so thankful for everything Lauren’s students do for our soccer program,” Jimmy said. “I rely on them for so much.”
West Hall’s new softball coach said one of her students, Brian, compared the tasks during soccer games to having a job at Subway.
“He has definitely blossomed into a leader by working with the soccer program,” she said. “They’re learning social skills and work skills that will help them the rest of their lives.”
Lauren became acclimated at a young age with working with special-needs students, due to her mother, Julie Johnson, being involved with Special Olympics.
Lauren thrived as a softball player in high school at Johnson High and quickly learned that working with special-needs students was her other passion.
Now, it’s a dream that’s come full circle.
Before marrying Jimmy, Lauren worked across the hall from former West Hall soccer coach Israel Mata. That’s where she got to know her future husband, Jimmy.
Then, she made the first move on asking Jimmy out on a date.
Lauren said some of her students worked as team managers for the football team, while Jimmy’s younger brother was a Spartans player.
So, in 2017, they set out on the one-hour drive up to Tiger in Rabun County for the school’s football game.
Even though there are glaring differences in their personalities, it was a fit right away.
Now, they’ve meshed general education students with those in the special-education program to benefit everyone involved.
Lauren said, going forward, some of her softball players have also given a pledge to work with the special-needs students, some even wanting to pursue that line of education as a possible career.
“It brings a tear to my eye and has been so rewarding to see how well these students work together and get along,” Lauren said.