Dave Garrett is minister of Christian life and activities at First Baptist Church and track and field coach at Greenwood High School, positions he has held for six years. He began his religious vocational career in 1986 in Pennington Gap, Va., and his coaching career that same year at the town’s high school. Before coming to Bowling Green, he was Boyle County High School’s track coach and youth minister at Danville’s Lexington Avenue Baptist Church.
Why have you chosen to be bi-vocational?
That is something that I have done for 30 years. I have been at three high schools. I have a family studies degree from the University of Kentucky. People said be a teacher, but it wasn’t for me. I’ve always had a job at a church or coaching. I was wide receivers coach at Centre College. I walked on at UK and played there for a few years. ... We went to the Hall of Fame Bowl. I didn’t finish my degree right away, going to Virginia where I grew up. I then got called to go to (a church) in Lexington and then in Danville. I finished my degree quickly then. I was the first person in my family to even go to college. College was never a discussion at family reunions.
What is family studies?
It is a bachelor of science degree that includes all kinds of classes including marriage and family counseling.
Guiding young children was one of my favorite classes. It helps us get it right with kids, and it works well for adults as well. There were a lot of practical classes – personal finance was part of the program and consumer issues was another class. ... I was very drawn to it because I felt like it was something I was going to live.
Tell me more about yourself.
I’ve been here six years last summer. My wife (Stacy) grew up here. She went to Warren East High School. She went to Centre College and works at Western Kentucky University, where she is an assistant budget director. When we came to Bowling Green, I immediately applied for the Greenwood job. It’s been a good struggle. We have a wonderful track and field program and some amazing athletes. We actually make money. Us and football are the two moneymakers. We do a lot of meets and have slowly been working on school records.
How does being bi-vocational help you as a track coach?
Working with a church gives you the unique ability to arrange your schedule. I can make sure to have two hours a week (for track) so I arrange the schedule. Coaching is part of the ministry I do in the community. It’s just always worked for me and I respect the boundaries (between church and state) for the district and the school. I came from Boyle County, where we just had one high school, and here we have to be good with all of the other high schools doing well. I do get involved with (athletes’) teachers and counselors at school to find out how they are doing.
What is involved in your ministry at church?
I’m at the ROC – the Recreation Outreach Center – which has a gymnasium, walking track on top and a weight room. You actually join it. I offer some classes, and we have all other kinds of programs such as Better Life Fitness, Kid Fit, Roc Fit and others. We have a lot of equipment and things that are functional body movement such as kettle bells, parachutes ... we have as good as anything in the city. The ROC also offers a places for lots of groups to meet such as Alcoholics Anonymous – we have six or seven of those groups meeting here. We have a Celebrate Recovery program.
What is Celebrate Recovery?
It is a program that began 25 years ago out of the Saddleback Church started by Rick Warren. He met with a guy who realized he had a problem when he had beer for breakfast. That person, John Baker, ended up heading Celebrate Recovery. It is worship-driven and has a specific curriculum. There is a message in video, and some of those stories are pretty incredible. We have ours on Tuesday nights at 5:45. We have seven or eight or sometimes even 11 or 12 recovery houses in Bowling Green, and the people who live there have to follow a program that includes going to meetings, and we have gotten on that approved list because of our reputation. A lot of folks in 12-step programs talk about a “higher power.” We offer that that is Jesus Christ. On any given Tuesday night, we have at least 50 people and we might have up to 100. We have a meal, Sunday school and worship.
What else do you do?
We have a juvenile detention center in town, and I go down there a couple times a week during the school year and once a week otherwise. I asked who is doing recreation with this kids, and they said no one. So I designed a program and work out with them. For three or four years, I have been doing a morning fitness class and we do recreation, usually volleyball. It’s a time to do a quick devotional with them, also. We’ve had kids in there who have committed murder. ... I talk to them about how I really believe there is grace for everyone. But then I look at that person ... and think what if their victim has been a family member of mine. That was a challenge for me when I started realizing some of them had committed some pretty serious offenses.