Recovering Gulf Coast head coach stays tuned in as team plays for title
The Gulf Coast men's basketball team will play for a Region 8, or State Championship Saturday.
And though he's on the sidelines, so to speak, recovering from open heart surgery, G.C. head coach Phil Gaffney is still very much a part of team of that run.
The coach having the heart surgery after suffering a heart attack back in January. His doctors still haven't cleared him to get back on the bench, but he is involved with the team for sure.
Friday I visited coach Gaffney at his Panama City Beach home, as he watched the Commodores play Central Florida via an internet stream. And watching him cheer, and coach, from his recliner, with his four dogs and one cat by his side, it's obvious he's missing being with the team, and anxious to perhaps coach again before this season ends!
"Coach (Scott) Jackson and coach (Ward) Griffith and coach Carpenter, we talk. I text them at halftime of the game, we go over game plans." coach Gaffney told me. "We go over practice plans. They come over to the house, I've been into the office a couple of times just to go over a few things with them. We've stayed in contact but I'm still really not coaching the team. So it's been tough to sit on the outside and watch."
And on top of that he's dealing with a very painful, life-altering medical issue.
And given his current health condition, for a coach, even watching from a distance may not be the best thing. A couple of days ago, his wife made him turn off the live-stream of the team's quarterfinal win over Southwestern with four minutes to play!
"I think it's different too when I'm coaching, I don't get nervous." coach Gaffney says. "But when I'm watching other people, like my daughter, my nephew growing up, watching their games was torture for me because I had no control. And I found that out the other day watching, I had no control watching. Just my heart rate got too high. It went from 60 to about 130 beats per minute. And then it stays elevated and that can be very dangerous. My wife was like you better stop watching. If you ever do want to coach again you better stop watching this game and relax. And get yourself straight so maybe in two weeks, when they have the National Tournament you can be coaching again."
On the upside, with his team doing no worse than State runner up, it all but guarantees Gulf Coast a berth at the NJCAA National Tournament in Hutchinson, Kansas later this month. And with another two weeks of healing, that just may allow coach Gaffney to travel with, and coach the team out there.