Pitchford has been teaching the area's youth for the past 27 years, and he wouldn't have it any other way.
Not much has changed in the past 27 years for Gerry Pitchford, the athletics supervisor for the city of Ormond Beach’s Leisure Services department. The city added field maintenance to his list of responsibilities four years ago, but for the most part, his daily routine remains consistant.
Work begins well before sunrise when he walks through the doors of the Nova Community Center at 6 a.m. almost every day.
He meets with his field maintenance team, planning out what their tasks are to be at each of the city’s numerous parks for the day. Then, he sets up the sports programs. He usually doesn’t leave the community center until well past 7 p.m. And he does all of this without a secretary. He’s all by himself.
Despite the apparent monotony, he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Twenty seven years is a long time to be anywhere,” Pitchford said. “But I’m where I want to be. I think of what people do every day for a living and how miserable they are. At least I get to go do something every day that I’ve always had a passion for. It never gets old or boring.
"If you don’t enjoy it and have a passion for it, you’re going to get burned out really quickly."
“It’s just enjoyable to do this and to be able to help these kids. I’m not in this for any other reason. It’s just a passion, and I thank God I get to do what I like to do every day.”
Gerry Pitchford, Ormond Beach Athletics Supervisor
Before moving to Ormond Beach, Pitchford was living in Carbondale, Illinois. He was a coach for Southern Illinois University’s baseball team, where he played for the Salukis from 1983 to 1986. He was also in charge of the school's intramural sports.
He was hired by the city almost immediately after moving to Ormond Beach. He knew he wanted to start a volleyball program. He played the sport competitively when he lived up north and described it as his second love — behind only baseball.
He wanted to start an indoor volleyball league for adults, but no one signed up. So he started conducting youth camps, instead.
“I love working with kids,” he said. “I would rather work with kids than adults any day.”
The most current camp is from 6 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays from June 11 to Aug. 1. There are about 45 girls from 9-17. His camp in the fall is attended by about 70 girls.
At the camp, which is hosted on the courts of the Nova Community Center, the girls learn the basics: serving, hitting, digging, blocking and positioning. Scrimmages and other game formats are also played.
Pitchford has been running the camp for so long that he’s now teaching the children of some of his former students.
The greatest joy he’s received from coaching, however, is seeing his students improve and move on to bigger and better things.
He’s watched dozens of girls go on to play in high school for Flagler Palm Coast, Matanzas, Seabreeze, Mainland and Spruce Creek. He still attends as many of their games during the fall season as he can.
“I love teaching the ones who really have the desire, who want to get so much better,” he said. “To see those kids grow, and see where they end up is the satisfaction of it all.”