Voice For the Sport: ‘Anything For Jack’; Impact of Jack Bauerle Runs Deep

Jack Bauerle

From the July issue of Swimming World Magazine, the impact of University of Georgia coach Jack Bauerle will long be felt, even as the legendary mentor embraces retirement.

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Three words. That’s all it took to characterize the meaning of the man to hundreds of individuals. To demonstrate how his athletes—past and present—will leap at the opportunity to speak about his impact. To pay tribute to all he accomplished in a coaching career that spanned more than 40 years in one location. “Anything for Jack!”

Those were the words typed by Brittany MacLean in the hours following the announcement that Jack Bauerle, the longtime head coach at the University of Georgia, was retiring from a role he occupied over five decades. An Olympic and NCAA champion coach, the 70-year-old Bauerle stepped down on June 8, noting that it was time to make the move.

Not long after that news broke, Georgia seamlessly revealed that Stefanie Williams Moreno and Neil Versfeld would inherit Bauerle’s programs, moving up from their roles as assistant coaches. More, they were both Georgia athletes under Bauerle, groomed for years to handle this transition and carry on the program’s rich tradition.

As is the case when any legendary coach departs, Bauerle’s absence from the deck will be strange at first—and difficult to accept. Part of the fabric of the sport has been the Philadelphia native interacting with his athletes, lifting championship trophies and laughing and chatting with fellow coaches. But Bauerle also earned the right to leave on his terms, and his decision must be celebrated and appreciated.

And when MacLean, an NCAA champion at Georgia and Olympic medalist for Canada, responded to a Swimming World request for comment on Bauerle’s retirement, her chosen words painted a picture of someone who has had a profound influence far beyond the pool. Sure, he was a coach, and he certainly got the best out of his athletes. Yet, he was also a mentor, confidant, ally and friend.

Through the years, numerous pictures of Bauerle and his athletes have made the rounds, whether on social media or accompanying news articles. Some with Kristy Kowal. Others with Williams Moreno. Still more with Jay Litherland. The list goes on. The common theme in the images? Smiles and respect. Close-knit bonds. These are scenes that speak volumes.

“So lucky that our paths aligned at just the right moment,” Kowal wrote on Facebook. “There aren’t enough words to describe what you mean to me. Love you, Jack Bauerle. Congratulations on an absolutely stellar career.”

For all Bauerle has meant to his athletes on a personal level, his impact on the sport can also be measured through the achievements of Georgia as a program, and the individuals who powered the school to vast success. Consider some of Bauerle’s awe-inspiring feats:

• Seven NCAA women’s team titles and 12 Southeastern Conference championships.

• A 595-139-4 record as coach of the Georgia men and women.

• Sixty-two men and women accounted for 175 NCAA titles during Bauerle’s tenure.

• Head coach of the United States women at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, and additional stints on Team USA staffs at the Olympics and World Championships.

• Mentored 87 Olympians from 20 countries, with 38 Olympic medals earned.

• Academic success can be found in 416 scholar All-Americans, 39 NCAA postgraduate scholarship winners and three NCAA Woman of the Year winners.

• Last summer, as evidence that Bauerle was still at the top of the coaching game, nine athletes with current or past connections to Bauerle represented Team USA at the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

It’s never easy to watch a great one tie a bow on a career. There’s always a desire for that individual to deliver a few more flashes of brilliance. But Jack Bauerle has surely provided an ample number of special moments, and he’ll long be remembered as an icon in the sport.

“When I left Philadelphia for Athens in 1970, I fell in love with Georgia, but I could have never predicted the good fortune I would encounter and the wonderful people I would meet,” Bauerle said. “I will miss being on the deck every day, but I am forever proud of everything we have accomplished at the University of Georgia.”

And the sport is grateful.

 

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Tim Hill
1 month ago

I missed seeing Jack and Harvey these past years not coaching at the Collegiate level but both great individuals and great coaches. I’m sure he’ll have fun playing tennis and enjoying his friends and family

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Jimmy Tierney
1 month ago

One of the best ever. Thanks for all that you have given to our sport Jack! Your impact is immeasurable.

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