Former Gilbert coach Paul Grossman back in the game. Story by Rick Wilson.
Paul Grossman could have taken a well-worn northern route. You know, get a little older, get tired of the Draconian New England winters, move to Florida, eat at 4 p.m. and become a golf starter at the local club.
But, there isn’t a touch of high white sock or early-bird special to be found on Grossman. Oh, he’s in Florida, but it all stops with geography. It hasn’t been about getting warm and getting older. Okay, the warm part has worked for him
There are the physical touches of a Florida life, the crisp tan and warm-weather smile that taunts all who have to become one with shovel and move from the lightweight division to the heavyweight class thanks to clothing layers that require a crane to upright you again if you fall over.
A good part of the lifestyle doesn’t speak Florida and retirement, however. Heck, Grossman might be one of the few that moved to Florida for seven months a year and stays inside. Not that you can’t find him at the beach once in a while. Your best bet of finding him though is in the gym.
When the man wasn’t adding a touch of class to your home by selling you a variety of wares from his popular China Shops (Hey, I bought my wedding china from him. Quality stuff) he coached the Wolcott Tech, Canton and Gilbert girl’s basketball teams.
He did well and you figure a guy that is 75-years-old would take his memories and stuff them in his golf bag in Florida. Not Grossman. Can’t get enough of the game.
These winter days you can find him coaching at Cypress Lakes High School near Fort Myers imparting some accumulated wisdom gained over a long span of time and from a diverse collection of places.
Grossman was roaming the grounds of Greenwoods Country Club Friday for the Gilbert-Northwestern football fundraiser. Sporting the plaid shorts and white polo short he looked about 20 years younger than his three quarters of a century birth certificate.
It was catch-up time. Grossman was always fun to talk to during his previous coaching endeavors plus he put a rush on that china delivery for me way back when by stealing, excuse me barrowing from another order. All legal and much appreciated.
Grossman talks about the game with a reverence, not the weariness of so many who coached the game, loved it for what it was but knew when it was time to go. “I love the gym, I can’t get enough of it,” he said. Not exactly a ringing endorsement for the beach scene and The Florida Tourist Board may not be calling soon, but any program that wants a dedicated coach who knows what he is doing might.
Part of the attraction beyond the game itself is that Grossman is coaching the JV team. He doesn’t have all of the responsibilities of being the head guy. He can focus on offense and defense and leave the basketball nuts and bolts of operation to somebody else
And you know what? The state changes, the weather is different, the names are new and the schedule is closer to 30 games but teenagers are teenagers and the game stays the same. You throw the game and the kids together and the combination has all the irresistibility of an invitation to the filming of the Sports Illustrated Swim Suit issue.
“I like teaching the game but it’s about teaching about life too,” said Grossman in undeniable I love it tone.
As much as it all changes, it stays the same. But what is really cool is that when the day is done, Grossman doesn’t have to tighten the scarf, button the overcoat and make sure the defroster is on. He can walk out into the warmth and another day in paradise. Now there’s a warm Florida story.