Remembering ‘Coach G’

It’s not very often we come across a person so strong he will put aside his own burden to help us with ours, but when we do, he changes our lives. We remember Coach Barry Gorodnick for being this man.

Assistant Director of Student Activities John Ellenburger said, “The biggest thing with Coach G was that he was the nicest, most genuine person you would ever meet. Everyone loved him for how nice he was and how he treated everyone.”

Despite the sense of loss, many can’t help but smile at their memories of Gorodnick, who was a fun loving man.

Former wide receivers coach Shaun Blair remembered a story from football camp, when the coaches were in their cabin talking about the day’s practice and all of a sudden Gorodnick broke out into river dance. He was jumping around, doing his best river dance imitation and the staff was rolling on the floor laughing. Former head football coach Mark Bendorf walked in to see what was going on and looked at Gorodnick.

“Oh man, I think I bruised my heel doing that too,” Gorodnick said, setting off another round of laughter.

Often described as an easy going person, Gorodnick got along with everyone at the school and in the community. The memories he left behind are kind and favorable, and no one has a word to say to the contrary.

Former defensive line coach Steve Francis said Gorodnick was a giving person who was always there for the people who depended on him and had a strong desire to help others. Francis and Gorodnick’s other co-workers remember him as a good friend who always came through for them.

Assistant softball coach Mitch Hughes said, “[Gorodnick and I] were very good friends. He would always ask ‘what do you want to do for practice?’ and we’d be like, ‘well you’re the boss’. Then he’d say, ‘don’t do that. We’re in this together.’ He was like the brother I always wanted. It was never work being around here with him, it was like we were just hanging around.”

Gorodnick’s work at the school was more than just a job to him, as his love for the school was apparent to all those who knew him. Principal Dan Meier recalled Gorodnick’s unquestioned commitment to the school from his days as a high school student to his teaching career.

Meier said, “He was a Robinson ram through and through. He bled blue and gold, graduated from here, played sports for the Rams, coached and taught at the school for over 24 years. He absolutely loved Robinson and dedicated his life to Robinson. I think of him after big victories and what pride he took…he loved seeing the kids he coached have success and he loved making his school look good.”

Although he made it look easy, Gorodnick juggled a busy schedule with multiple positions and played an integral role within the school. Staff and students remember his hard work and dedication to every aspect of his work, whether as the softball coach, the football defensive coordinator or the school’s technology specialist.

“He had a genuine desire to coach kids and guide them,” Francis said.

Working with multiple teams all year-round, Gorodnick made a great impact on the athletes as well as the other coaches at the school.

Blair said, “He was tough with his players as a coach, but he knew when to hug them too and he had the great balance needed. Talk about a man that’s got it and he understood what kids needed as players and students.”

Director of Student Activities Jeff Ferrell said, “He was always here, he was always around. He worked hard for the kids and the teachers at the school.”

When Ferrell first started working at this school, the coaches were working to clear a big mound by the softball field. He remembers how hard Gorodnick worked to clear it, recruiting his students and athletes and going out onto the field himself to prepare it for the season.

“I loved being able to help him get what he wanted,” Ferrell said. “Especially with him, because of how hard he worked with the softball field and with all of the little things that people don’t see.”

It is those little things people will miss the most, parts of the greater legacy Gorodnick has left behind. Coping with this loss, the community comes together in their grief to honor a man they will not forget.

Hughes said, “It’s not something you get over, you just get through it. As the day goes on and it turns into the next day and the next week it’ll get a little easier to talk about him and the memories won’t hurt so much. As a team, getting up on that field again will help because that’s where we can see him the easiest, in our minds.”