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Photo by Sarah Finnegan.
Coaches and brothers Doug Gann, left, and Lee Gann, right, meet at home plate with a pair of officials to exchange lineups and review field rules before the start of a Homewood-Mountain Brook baseball game Feb. 28 in Mountain Brook. The brothers' father also coached multiple sports for Berry, Homewood, Hoover and John Carroll Catholic high schools.
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Photo courtesy Birmingham-Southern Athletics.
Gerald Gann has most recently coached running backs at Birmingham-Southern.
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Photo courtesy of Homewood High School.
Doug Gann, No. 15, poses with the 1987 Homewood varsity football offensive line. Doug and his brother, Lee, each played quarterback for their father, Gerald Gann, with Doug Gann graduating in 1987, followed by Lee Gann in 1989.
Gerald Gann had one major rule for his teams throughout his career.
No matter the sport, year or group of athletes, that priority remained the same: Do the right thing.
“He never had a long list of rules of do’s and don’ts,” said Lee Gann, son of Gerald Gann. “As long as you do what’s right, everything else will take care of itself.”
Gerald Gann’s coaching career has spanned more than 40 years. He coached baseball, basketball and football teams at various stops, including Berry, Homewood, Hoover and John Carroll Catholic high schools. In recent years, he could still be found coaching running backs at Birmingham-Southern College.
The majority of his days were spent on the gridiron, where he amassed a 159-145-2 record as a football head coach at Homewood (1979-94), Hoover (1995-98) and John Carroll (2001-07). During his tenure at Homewood, the Patriots reached three state championship games.
Gerald Gann affected hundreds, if not thousands, of adolescents in his coaching career, but two specific men who meant more to him than any others can still be found making an impact on the Birmingham-area high school sport ranks today.
Two of his sons took to heart everything they learned from him and are continuing his legacy. Lee Gann and Doug Gann are now high school head baseball coaches at Mountain Brook and Homewood, respectively.
Doug Gann is two years the senior of Lee Gann, and both were children when Gerald Gann first arrived at Homewood in 1979.
“We were always on the field or in a gym,” Lee Gann said. “That was kind of our playground growing up.”
While some find entertainment with friends or at various social outings on Friday nights, the Ganns knew where they would be on Friday nights in the fall.
“We were at every game every Friday night,” Doug Gann said. “That was part of our ritual, going to a game. That was just what we did growing up.”
As kids, Doug and Lee Gann were immersed in the action in their own way, as ball boys for their dad’s football team. This allowed them a front-row seat into Gerald Gann’s ways of coaching and influencing children not his own.
“I could see early on when I was in elementary school and being able to be around him on a daily basis, he was able to have an impact on kids and be a positive influence on everybody that he interacted with,” Lee Gann said.
But as Doug Gann went through his middle school years, he decided he was not going to be on the receiving end of his dad’s coaching.
“After my eighth-grade year, I told my dad I wasn’t going to play football,” Doug Gann said. “He said, ‘OK, that’s fine.’ I kept telling him that every week.”
Gerald Gann allowed the thought to stew for some time, but eventually made an executive decision.
“It was getting close to spring training and he said, ‘You’re going to play this year. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to play in the future,’” Doug Gann said.
In retrospect, Doug Gann is glad he was forced into it.
“I loved it,” he said. “Most parents wouldn’t want their son to play football, but I’m glad he made me do it. I had a lot of fun and made lots of memories.”
Doug and Lee Gann each played quarterback for Gerald Gann, with Doug Gann graduating in 1987, followed by Lee Gann in 1989. But their overarching success came on the baseball diamond.
Doug Gann played college baseball at UAB, and also played on UAB’s first sanctioned football team in 1991. Following his college days on the Southside, he spent seven years in the Hoover school system, with stints at Berry High and Simmons Middle School.
He returned to his alma mater in 1999 as an assistant coach with the baseball, basketball and football teams, the same three sports his father coached. Doug Gann coached three sports for roughly a decade, and he became the head baseball coach in 2006.
Lee Gann played baseball at Samford for four years before short stints in the Seattle Mariners organization and the Spartanburg Alley Cats in the Atlantic Coast Independent League.
After his playing days, he spent some time at Hoover High School as an assistant coach, and then he coached at Bob Jones for three years before arriving at Mountain Brook in 2003.
If coaching were a natural fit for anyone, it would be Doug and Lee Gann. After all, they have been around high school athletics the majority of their lives. But Lee Gann does not see it that way.
“Coaching is a calling,” he said. “It’s not always for everyone. But at the same time, if a person has character and the work ethic and intangibles of relating to kids, then that person has a great chance to be a great coach.”
When Doug and Lee Gann approached their father about the desire to become a coach after college, he attempted to “talk us out of it,” according to Lee Gann.
“It was something I was around, and it’s really the only thing I had any interest in and the only thing I knew,” Doug Gann said. “My mother always kept telling me to go into accounting. I tried taking an accounting class in college, and I went home and told her that at least I had tried.”
Now, Doug and Lee Gann have their own families to sustain and lives to balance along with positively influencing and molding kids not related to them. Lee Gann and his wife, Brandi, have two kids, Libby Grace and Curt, both high school student-athletes at Mountain Brook High. Doug Gann and his wife, Brooke, have three kids, Macy, Kate and Tripp.
If they do the right thing, as Gerald Gann taught and sons Doug and Lee Gann teach to players now, all will be well.
“Do the right thing,” Doug Gann said. “If you live by that premise, you’re going to be in pretty good shape throughout your life.”