Coach retiring to the coast

Just like many spring breakers, Pelham track and field head coach Randy Bunn returned from Panama City, Fla., over the weekend. Only Bunn wasn’t down there to vacation at the beach. He was relaxing at home.

Bunn and his wife Sandi have built a house in PC, as Bunn prepares to retire at the end of the season after 26 years of coaching.

“I’m not retiring from Pelham High School, I’m retiring from teaching. If they could find a way to move Pelham High School to Panama City Beach where I’m living, I’d probably keep working, because I like it here that much,” Bunn said.

Before coming to Pelham High School four years ago, Bunn promised his wife that he’d call it quits after 25 years.

A heart attack in the fall of 2002, his first year as athletic director and track coach at Paul Bryant High School in Tuscaloosa, helped set up the retirement plan. After another season, he knew he needed to lighten his work load and made the move to Pelham.

As he approached his 25th year last season, he felt like he had to at least see one class all the way through and convinced his wife to let him stay one more year. The compromise was she got to move to their new beach house, 1.5 miles off the beach, and he’d visit when track had a weekend off.

“It’s a real pretty place. If you want to go to the beach it’s like a walk from the high jump pit to the other side of the softball field,” Bunn said.

BOX OF CHOCOLATES

Bunn said his wife likes to call him Forrest Gump. Every where someone goes in the track world, someone seems to know who he is from his days either as the University of Alabama track and football manager and trainer or for his time coaching at Grissom High.

Bunn, a Bessemer native, likes to tell the story of coaching a “pretty good ballplayer” one summer named Vincent “Bo” Jackson. It was a summer baseball league, and the team needed a coach over 21. Bunn was the lucky 21-year-old.

Like Gump, and Bo, Bunn knows how to win and how to put his name in sports history.

He also helped start a 15-year reign of an indoor track season at Celebration Arena in Priceville before the state ended it in 2007.

While in college working in UA athletics, he was a member of the 1980 Southeastern Conference Championship track team and 1978 and 1979 football national championship teams.

Since then he has coached more than a dozen indoor and outdoor track athletes to state championships. He’s trying to get at least one more before he leaves in May.