Interview by Abernathy Cochran intern and Gainesville High School senior Donangelo Marshall
Meet Richard Corbett! Richard is married to Stephanie and has been the Gainesville High School cross country coach for the last five years. Corbett ran cross country at Florida State University and worked in the Marketing industry for 25 years before working at Gainesville High School.
We want to thank Richard for recently spending time with us and telling us more about his life and love of Hall County.
Question: Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
A: “I went to Walton High School down in Marietta and ran cross country and track there, then headed to Florida State on a cross county and track scholarship where I ran my entire career. Upon graduating with a teaching degree, I found myself moving to the business world where I had a 25-year career in Marketing. At the age of 50 I decided to retire from that and used my teaching degree and get on at Gainesville High School, where I’m on my fifth year.”
Q: What inspired you or led you to your current career?
A: “Really the opportunity to get in as a coach here at the high school, the Marketing career I had, while fun and well paid, once I got into teaching I realized that it was my passion even though at the age of 50. I call it a retirement career that I’m in and I don’t really look at it as a job because I enjoy it; I look forward everyday coming to school and seeing my special needs kids and coaching for cross country and track.”
Q: What is your favorite restaurant in Hall County and what do you love there?
A: “It may sound cliche but my favorite restaurant is at home; it’s eating my wife’s cooking and I look forward to what she’s going to make every night. But, if I was gonna choose a restaurant, I would choose El Sombrero, not because it’s my only favorite restaurant because I got a lot of favorites here like 2 Dog Cafe, Longstreet Cafe, Mellow Mushroom and all the ones that everybody frequently goes to. But I like to go to El Sombrero and I like to encourage my athletes to go there because they’re a big sponsor of both Cross Country and Track and I think it’s important to support our sponsors.”
Q: How long have you lived or worked in Hall County?
A: “I moved up here when I was in my Marketing career in 2000, my company asked me to move from Atlanta up here and I had no knowledge of Gainesville at all. I lived in the community just outside of the high school and started following Gainesville High School and got to know a lot of the coaches while I was in that old career. I moved away up to Raleigh, N.C. for five or six years and got the opportunity to move back to Gainesville by my old house and started to follow the athletics and getting to know all the coaches, which allowed me to move in this career. Wayne Vickery, our old athletic director, he and I had become close when I followed his baseball team back in the early 2000s and I pretty much followed the football team, baseball, and cross country team with Coach Miller. He gave me the opportunity to be a community coach while I started off as a para-pro and I worked my way into the head coaching job and full-time teaching.”
Q: Who is the most interesting person you’ve met here in our community?
A: “I hate to name one person but I’m gonna say, Coach Wayne Vickery. He gave me an opportunity to be a part of this baseball program by inviting me to the banquets, he just saw me at the Gainesville games all the time. With the old career I had I was able to kind of work my travel each day towards Gainesville when there’s baseball, whether it was Pickens or Blue Ridge and I would always find my way to be able to watch their road games as well as their home games. Coach Vickery came over to me one day to the end of the season and invited me to the banquet because he’d seen me to all the games as much as the parents if not more. I’m pretty loyal to him and he helped me to get in the door here as he was transitioning as an outgoing athletic director and we’ve stayed real close since then.”
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would it be and why?
A: “It’s funny I’ve been talking lately, I go to Disney World all the time, my wife and I kinda talked that we’re at the point where we just go to Disney…we love it! We can unpack and just stay there. But, I’ve been talking right now that I want to go to South Dakota, North Dakota, Yellowstone and travel all over 50 states in a RV.”
Q: What is your favorite movie or the first movie you remember seeing in the theater?
A: “There’s a lot of them but I just saw one the other day that came across Twitter it’s from the 70s it’s called ‘Breaking Away,’ it was a bicycling movie. And then ‘Bad News Bears’ back in the 70s which is a baseball movie with Walter Matthau but I guess the movies about Steve Prefontaine were important movies to me as a runner. And then ‘Mcfarland USA’ because that was pretty impactful.”
Q: What advice would you give to a crowd of people?
A: “Make sure you surrounded yourself with the right people because you’re a reflection of the people you’re hanging out within that crowd.”
Q: What is something on your bucket list?
A: “To go to the state meet, to get on that podium with my team and to get an RV and travel..that’s on my bucket list.”
Q: What is your favorite music or 3 bands that you would like to see (dead or alive)?
A: “My favorite music is all over the place. I grew up in high school listening to a lot of 70s and early 80s R&B and soul, going to a lot of concerts in Atlanta. I can listen to anything country, rock or rap, it doesn’t really matter. My favorite band can always be the Grateful Dead or the Black Crowes because I went to high school with the Robinson brothers, Richie and Chris, I knew them real well in high school, went to a lot of concerts with them back then before they made a huge success.”
Q: What current or former local business makes you the most nostalgic about Hall County?
A: “I guess the old 2 Dog Cafe, I miss that, I liked it when it was on Square, I still like it now but when it was on the Square I went there all the time, it’s now Avocados.”
Q: If you could choose anyone alive and not a relative with whom would you love to have lunch? Why? And where locally would y’all meet for this lunch?
A: “I would love to spend time with Steve Prefontaine, he was a great runner in Oregon and for the USA, he died suddenly in a car crash in Eugene. I had a poster of him in my wall, he was kind of the idol of all of us kids in the 70s running. I also wish I could of spent a little bit more time with my grandfathers and grandmothers, I’m real nostalgic about my grandfather on my mom’s side, he owned a hardware business for about 50 years and we spent a lot of time in his house during summer. I wish I could go back and still see my old high school coach Lee Gower from Walton. Back then we would go to a place called Southern Subs up in Marietta or Recess, I don’t think Subs is still there but that’s kinda nostalgic for me as a high school kid.”
Q: What is your favorite thing or something unique about Hall County?
A: “My favorite thing is the lake surround in it, we used to have a boat, we liked it quite a bit but we sold the boat. I think the unique thing about living in the city of Gainesville is that everything just within five to 10 minute drive.”
Q: Where do you see yourself in five or 10 years?
A: “I see myself right here, teaching my special needs kids and coaching for Gainesville High School. No matter what happens I hope to continue to inspire kids to go in to cross country and track. The unique thing here is that most of our team is first generation runners, they’re not kids that grew up under parents that ran so we really have to teach them the basics and I think that’s kinda fun to see them continue to improve and grow.”
Q: Even for friends or family, what is something interesting that most people don’t know about you?
A: “People that know me have we talked about this periodically but when I’m at the Florida State, I was a member of a great team there and I like to tell people that Deion Sanders was a phenomenal multi-sports athlete of our state, he was part of our Track team and was one of the greatest people I’ve ever met.”
Q: What three words or phrases comes to mind when you hear of the word HOME?
A: “Simplicity, comfort and great food.”
Q: If you had a full time staff member that was fully paid for, what would you choose? Chef, Housekeeper, Driver, Coach, Physical Fitness Trainer, or Nanny?
A: “I wouldn’t choose a chef because my wife does a great job with that. I would probably choose a housekeeper since I spend so much time here at the school and when I get home I’m doing work from the computer…or I might choose a Landscaper one day because I’m getting too old to do that.”