March 18, 2005
ATLANTA–Georgia Tech head coach Chan Gailey watched the Yellow Jackets practice Friday, four days after undergoing an angioplasty.
Gailey, 53, sustained a heart attack early Monday while playing raquetball at the Campus Recreation Center. He was taken to Piedmont Hospital, where the angioplasty was performed. He remained in the hospital until late Wednesday, when he returned home.
The Yellow Jackets began spring practice a week ago, including a workout Tuesday while Gailey was in the hospital. Friday’s practice was Tech’s fourth of 15 spring sessions.
Gailey watched the two-hour workout from a golf cart, spending most of him time with the offense, as he normally does.
“It’s great to be back out here, considering the alternatives of where I could be,” he said after practice. ” I’m very fortunate and very blessed to be able to be back on the field and coaching. I’ve got to take it easy. If the doctors see me out there doing too much on the field, I’m sure I’ll get a call tonight so I’ve got to make sure I take it easy.
“It felt great to be back on the field. I’m very fortunate the people on campus that took care of me and the people at Piedmont (Hospital). I’m very fortunate, very blessed to be back out here.”
Gailey said he has been overwhelmed by response from fans, friends and former players and coaches.
“It’s been very humbling to hear from as many people as I’ve heard from, it’s just been amazing,” said Gailey, entering his fourth season at Tech. “I’m deeply, deeply grateful for all of the well-wishes and people just trying to get in contact with me.
“I appreciate relationships and I appreciate every day a little bit more. I think that everybody that goes through something like this appreciates each day, each person and each relationship a little bit more. “
He was asked how this would affect his coaching style and lifestyle.
“Well, I’ve never been a yeller and a screamer anyway, but at the same time I think that I’m going to have to take it easy here for the first couple of practices,” said Gailey, who was accompanied Friday by his wife, Laurie. “But we get spring break next week so hopefully I’ll be back going the week after that.”
Still, it was difficult for Gailey to watch from golf cart.
“It was hard sitting in that cart today,” he said. “I have to ask my doctor about that. It’s doctor’s orders, so I have to do that for a while…it’s probably a good thing.”
Gailey said he has talked to his good friend and former mentor, Dan Reeves.
“Take it easy, be smart,” Gailey said that Reeves told him. “It was good to talk to him. We’re friends, we’ve been close through the years. I haven’t talked to him as much lately as I would have liked. We were very close for many years.”
Gailey addressed the team following practice.
“I talked to them about what we needed to do to get better and the scrimmage tomorrow and I thanked them for their concern,” he said.
“The coaches had told me that they had been asking about me, how I was and things like that…we’re not mushy out here. So I appreciated them asking and showing concern.”
Tech has a scrimmage scheduled for Saturday morning at 11 a.m. at Bobby Dodd Stadium/Grant Field, the Jackets’ final practice before spring break. Spring practice resumes March 29.
“I’m either going to be in the cart or in the stands…I’m not going to even chance going on the field,” said Gailey when asked where he would watch the scrimmage.