For the last 20 years, State Court Judge Bart Altman has volunteered as head coach of the Glynn County Broncos.
“I always joke, I’m the head coach because I’ve got a truck and I can put the equipment in the back,” Altman said. “That’s how I got to be the head coach — I’m the one that hauls around all the equipment.”
He received a little bit of remuneration for his effort last week when the Georgia Recreation and Parks Association awarded him the Terry Thompson Award for Outstanding Volunteer.
Standing in a dugout at Ballard Park on Monday, Altman looked back on his time coaching for the Glynn County Broncos, one of 14 teams in the Glynn County Recreation and Parks Department’s youth football program.
“Everyone gives me a hard time for practicing in a baseball field, but it’s where we started. Let me tell you why I practice here, and this is true. This is some of the highest, driest ground. North Glynn (Recreation Complex) would be a swamp by now,” Altman said, referring to the impending rain Monday afternoon.
At the age he gets them for the football program, kids aren’t all that different from what they were when he started coaching.
“At 11 and 12 they’re still 11 and 12. They’re the same kids they were 20 years ago, as far as when they come out here. They all want to be a quarterback or a wide receiver,” Altman said.
Over the 20 years he’s been head coach, Altman said he has seen quite a few young men go on to find success.
“Deejay Dallas. I love Deejay, he texts me every other week. Randy Jernigan, starting at (the University of) Georgia. Jeremy James, he’s starting this year at Ole Miss. James Dean is at Georgia Southern,” Altman said. “Then kids that I’m so proud of, not athletically. Xavier McClinton. Xavier’s at Florida A&M, he’s student body president, I mean this is a kid who’s going to be a senator one day.”
He also mentioned D’Angelo Pitts, who is currently studying to be a physician.
Several kids he’s coached have gone on to serve law enforcement locally and many have joined the military. One is working in the Glynn County District Attorney’s office.
There were too many to name, and he said he’s proud of them all.
“I always joke with people that I’ve got two daughters, but I’ve got like 400 sons,” Altman said.
While his coaching style has been tweaked and adapted over the years, what works still works, he said.
“Everybody wants to sling it, and get in the shotgun and run no-huddle and all that stuff, and we shut that down left and right. And we run a no-huddle offense, we run it better than anybody,” Altman said. “We do what we do. We throw it. We run it. There’s three things that can happen when you pass, and two of them are bad.”
His reasons for getting involved in coaching in the first place were the people who ran the county sports programs when he was a kid.
“Bob Miller and John Silva, those were the guys I wanted to be, wanted to grow up to be. Not because they were the richest guys in the community, because they weren’t. Mr. Miller worked at Hercules with my dad. Mr. Silva was retired from the Navy. They weren’t the wealthiest guys in the community, but the kids loved them,” Altman said.
“They made a huge impact on my life, and I saw those guys my entire life. Those were the guys that taught me to say ‘yes sir’ and ‘no sir,’ ‘yes ma’am’ and ‘no ma’am,’ ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’ That was a big deal to me, and I try to send that down another generation.
“I always knew when I was in high school and went off to college, that if I ever came home I was going to coach baseball and football. My wife made me stop baseball.”
He also made sure to thank the people who help out on the team. Randy Hicks coached with him for several years, while Scott Morrison, a local dentist, serves as the team’s defensive coordinator. He also thanked Joe Delaney, the quarterbacks coach, and Kevin James, who used to work with Morrison on defense.
Tiffany Brain, recreation program manager for the county Recreation and Parks Department, put Altman’s name in the hat for the award.
“Kids need to play sports because it’s good for the community, and it’s a source of community pride,” Brain said. “Even though they may not know who we are at the rec department, we remember them. Those are big names now. We might see them and say ‘those are our kids.’”