All rights reserved.
View the Mobile Alpha version of this page.
I will be the first to admit that Rick Kobe and the East Carolina swim
team don’t get nearly the attention they deserve.
Coach Kobe is one of the good guys. He is very humble, despite his great
success. This weekend he moved up a notch among the all-time coaching
greats in his sport.
His record stands at 500-180-1 in his 32 years. He joins an elite list
with win number 500, joining Boston College's Tom Groden (698), North
Carolina's Frank Comfort (578), Yale's Bob Kiputh (528), Virginia's Mark
Bernardino (510) and current Georgia coach Jack Baule (505). Kobe is the
second winningest current coach behind Baule.
"You can't do any of this stuff without good swimmers and good coaches,"
Kobe told the media after the milestone win. "I've had great assistants,
swimmers and divers come in here and we're not stopping. We're getting
better and better every year. You can't get any of this done without a
ton of support."
Swimming and diving as a sport is difficult to cover for television.
There are so many different events that it makes highlights difficult to
Coach Kobe certainly doesn’t seek the spotlight, but he is good to give
us a call when he has a big meet to try and get his swimmers and divers
the coverage they deserve. Through the years he understands the
difficulty, but he is eager to help us when he can.
Coach Kobe and I go way back. Years ago Kobe got some guys together to
play golf for a weekend at Pinehurst. He invited me and I was thrilled
to get a chance to play at one of the sport’s top venues.
Former Pirate baseball coach Gary Overton was also part of that
foursome. I was probably the weakest player in the group, but it was on
that trip that I had my own little bit of golf “history.”
We had the chance to play the historic Pinehurst No. 2. It was early on
that Saturday morning and the dew still covered the ground.
On the par 5, fourth hole I happened to light into a drive and was
sitting pretty in the fairway, with really no thoughts of going for the
green in two.
Coach “O” was in my cart, and he told me I should go ahead and hit. He’d
seen enough of my swing to know that the group ahead was safe on the
green. So with players on the green I ripped into a three-wood.
I ‘hit it in the screws’ as the saying goes. The ball took off like a
rocket. It skipped on the wet grass and headed up the hill at the green.
The ball kept rolling and rolling. The group putting on the green gave
us a dirty look as the ball rolled to about 15 feet from the cup.
I was quick to get to the green and apologize to the group for hitting
into them. They were great about it, and told me not to apologize, to
just go out and make the putt.
Meanwhile Kobe was in a bunker after his second shot. He recovered with
a great shot and made a birdie on the hole.
I had 15 feet to negotiate to make an eagle and have a story to tell for
I have the “H and H” theory on putting. I say you just have to hit it
This time that theory worked to perfection. The eagle putt fell to the
bottom of the cup. Despite a birdie, Coach Kobe lost the hole.
We have joked about that golfing moment for years now. In fact, I
jokingly sent him a text after win number 500 to see which event was
bigger in his life. I knew the answer but also knew the question would
bring a smile to his face.
Congratulations again to one of the truly good guys at East Carolina
It’s 500 and counting for Rick Kobe.