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Bob Jones head swim coach Mike Gunner has retired from his position with the Patriots and chose an exciting time to do so. Coaching his last day for the Patriots at the AHSAA State Swim Meet last December, Gunner learned on Friday the 13th of January he was selected the 2016 National High School Boy’s Swimming Coach of the Year by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Coaches Association.
“When I was contacted about the award I was very surprised. I was floored by the selection,” said Gunner. “I attribute a lot of my success to always having good relationships with the athletes. There is a whole lot involved with the team, not just me.”
The 61-year Gunner has been the head swim coach at Bob Jones since 2000. Under his guidance, the Patriots won 10 state championships with the boys winning nine and the girls winning one. The boys took seven consecutive championships from 2004-2010 and two additional wins in 2014 and 2015. The Lady Patriots won their title in 2007.
“My son, Christopher, graduated two years ago and I really pondered the idea of retiring when he exited Bob Jones, but somehow I stayed for two more years,” said Gunner. “If I kept thinking ways to stay I would stay. I have no regrets in my decision to retire, but I will really miss it. Being around all of the young people is really fun.”
Gunner plans on spending more time with his wife, Christian, and their three children, one of which, Nolen, is a sophomore at Bob Jones. He also will spend more time with his hobby as the keyboard and saxophone player for one of the very successful show bands in Alabama, The Flashbacks.
A new coach will be named sometime during the summer months. Some of those around the program feel Gunner’s successor may come from within the program’s coaching staff.
Gunner also won the 2016 state coaching award and Section 3 coach of the year award. Prior to coaching at Bob Jones, Gunner was on the coaching staffs of Austin, Decatur and Athens high schools.
“There are so many great memories it’s difficult to try and look at one or two that stand out, but the most gratifying aspect of my coaching tenure at Bob Jones is there were very few bad memories,” said Gunner. “The Bob Jones swim program has been a working machine, always been oiled and always churning,” added Gunner. The award is a good way to end a coaching career.”