After 56 years, Bob Gooch's legacy at Mexico HS continues to grow
MEXICO – When he arrived in Mexico, Missouri in the Fall of 1960, a first football coaching job was supposed to lead Bob Gooch elsewhere eventually. That never quite happened.
Gooch played offensive line and linebacker at the University of Missouri under legendary coach Don Faurot from 1952-55 and said Faurot was a huge influence in his life.
“I played for a legendary coach in Don Faurot, who the field at the university is named after, and he was like a second father to me. He always took care of his players,” Gooch said.
Following his graduation from the university in 1957, he was drafted into the military and served two years, mostly domestically. After leaving, he knew he wanted to leave his mark on kids, the way Faurot had left a mark on him.
Eventually, that led him to Mexico, where he was hired on the football coaching staff. From the very outset, he aimed to impact kids the way Faurot impacted him.
“It was just natural, I tried to treat the kids like my own and how I’d like them to be coached. That was Coach Faurot’s philosophy,” Gooch said.
He has touched the lives of countless kids over the years, especially one he coached toward the beginning of his tenure. Ron Azdell played football, ran track, and wrestled under the tutelage of Gooch from 1963 to 1966.
“His whole life has been teaching kids more than just how to play a game. It’s how to live and what life is all about. That’s what athletics, I think, does for people,” Azdell said.
People took notice of the effectiveness he had in coaching the kids at Mexico High School, which helped earn him a promotion to the school’s athletic director by 1975. While serving in that post, he got to further expand his reach to kids of all sports, not just the ones he coached.
“Even as athletic director, I would just try to say ‘hi’ to all the kids and work with them when I could and still do those types of things,” Gooch said.
By 1988, Gooch was ready to explore other areas of life. He retired. But he didn’t retire from supporting the Bulldogs in everything he did. In the nearly 30 years since his retirement, he still tries to go to every Mexico sporting event he can.
“Well, I don’t miss too many. I try to get to a little bit of everything,” Gooch said.
It is that dedication that has helped make him an icon in the community. It also got the gym in the school named after him. While he’s proud of the plaque outside the gym, he hopes his lasting legacy goes far beyond that.
“I would hope I’d be remembered for respecting the kids, knowing the kids, working with the kids. I’m just happy to be in Mexico,” Gooch said.
From the very start, that legacy was being established through his first players.
“I’ve known him for 53 years and Bob Gooch will always be ‘Coach Gooch’ to me,” Azdell said.
He certainly isn’t alone in only ever knowing Bob Gooch, the man who arrived in Mexico 56 years ago, as “Coach”.