“At least half the coaches in the SEC have a place down there.”
In white shorts, flip-flops and a T-shirt, DiNardo gestures toward roadside attractions as his vehicle bounds down the ocean-hugging highway of 30A, a 19-mile stretch wedged between the party cove of Panama City and the tourist magnet of Destin. The thoroughfare bisects a dozen secluded beach communities across a region named after the roadway itself—Thirty-A.
Upward of three dozen college head football coaches either vacation here frequently, own a home here or are retired here. They aren’t the only celebrities in the area. Dozens of country music artists make this place their home or vacation spot, most notably Luke Bryan, once 30A neighbor to Tommy and Bobby Bowden.
Down here, college coaches say they don’t regularly hang out together. This is a place to spend time with family, not colleagues.
However, there is one rendezvous joint.
“It’s the Ocean Club,” says Richt, who owns a condo in a Sandestin community called TOPS’L, a short walk from the restaurantSource: Sand, Sun and the SEC: The Secluded Florida Region Where Football Coaches ‘Find Peace’
Smith Gilbert Retains Long-Time UGA Track Assistant
Longtime Bulldog throws coach Don Babbitt will remain on Georgia’s staff, according to new Director of Men’s and Women’s Track & Field Caryl Smith Gilbert.
Babbitt, a native of Los Angeles, has been named the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) National Assistant Coach of the Year and is a two-time Region Coach of the Year during his 25-year tenure with the Bulldogs. He has guided Georgia throwers to 30 NCAA individual titles and 140 All-America certificates and led scores of current and former Bulldogs to international success at the Olympic Games and World Championships over his career.
“My intention is to put together a staff that will represent the University of Georgia in the best way and help our student-athletes reach their peak performances, and I believe Don Babbitt checks both of those boxes,” said Smith Gilbert. “While he is a fellow UCLA graduate, Don has been a Bulldog 25 years and has proven by his numerous career accomplishments that he truly is one of the best throws coaches in our sport. I look forward to working alongside him very soon!”
The Bulldog men captured the 2018 NCAA outdoor team championship to complement the Georgia women’s national team title indoors that year. During that outdoor run, Babbitt instructed Denzel Comenentia as the native of the Netherlands won both the hammer throw and the shot put at NCAAs to score 20 of the Bulldogs’ winning effort of 52 points.
Most recently, Babbitt advanced both first-year Bulldog Alencar Pereira to the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the hammer and senior Marie-Therese Obst in the javelin. Obst captured the 2021 SEC title as well as this year’s national championship in the javelin and recently graduated with a degree in Criminal Justice.
Equestrian: Georgia Brings Back Sara Parr Hall as Western Assistant Coach
“We are so grateful for the work of our Mane Dawg Sara Parr Hall,” Boenig said. “She invested in our growth and helped secure multiple event and championship titles. I knew there was only one person that could build on our established success and propel us forward. It is with the greatest joy and excitement that we welcome back to Georgia, McKenzie Lantz Breuker! Her unparalleled commitment to student-athletes success, exceptional record, impeccable character, Red and Black blood and her wonderful supportive family make her the perfect fit to the missing piece of our program. We are thrilled!”
After finishing the most successful reining rider career in Georgia history, Lantz Breuker began her coaching career as a Volunteer Assistant for the Bulldogs in 2015. She then moved on to Fresno State and SMU before coming back to coach at her alma mater. While away she helped grow both the Fresno State and SMU programs to prevalence including being named the National Collegiate Equestrian Association Western Assistant Coach of the Year following SMU’s first-ever national championship finals appearance and Reserve National Champion finish.
“I’m incredibly excited to be back in Athens where it all started,” Lantz Breuker said. “The University of Georgia once provided me with so many wonderful opportunities to learn and grow as a student-athlete and I cannot wait to be a part of that same journey for so many talented young athletes. I was fortunate to help build a program at SMU along side great coaches and incredible riders. I am looking forward to joining a team with deep roots and a strong championship tradition. I am very excited to be home.”
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