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Garrison attends One Direction concert, makes unexpected trip to Hilton Head in eventful summer

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Gymnastics coach Tim Garrison finally took some time off this summer after a record-breaking season in 2013. (Chet White, UK Athletics) Gymnastics coach Tim Garrison finally took some time off this summer after a record-breaking season in 2013. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
Usually vacation for UK gymnastics coach Tim Garrison and his family is just a recruiting visit masquerading around as a trip to a new and exciting location. The Garrisons have been to Florida, Virginia and even Hawaii among other places on trips that each was planned around something gymnastics-oriented.   

This summer, the Garrisons were off to California, not to recruit, but to attend a wedding of one of Tim's former club gymnasts that had asked his children (Taige 12, Teagan 11 and Reece 3) to be a part of the ceremony. It was yet another gymnastics-centric trip, even though no actual work was scheduled.

So the Garrisons packed up, drove up I-71 to the Cincinnati Airport, and boarded the plane in late May on their way to the West Coast.

Garrison's wife Rachel - at the time six months pregnant - began to feel light headed once the cabin closed and the plane began to pressurize. So Garrison alerted the flight attendants and got Rachel some oxygen. All was well.

The plan began to approach the runway. The pilot took to the intercom system to address the passengers and alert them that they were next for takeoff. But then Rachel began feeling faint once again.

So for the second time, Garrison pressed the button to alert the flight attendants. It was becoming less and less likely that the Garrisons were going to make it to California. Garrison ultimately made the decision that that would be the case, and the plane turned around and was taxied back to the gate.

Flying was not an option, and the Garrison's weren't going west.

Unsatisfied with the thought of staying put, Garrison left traveling up to Rachel.

"I said, 'Well, forget that. You find a place we can drive to and we're going," Garrison said to his wife.

So Rachel settled on two destinations: Destin, Fla. and Hilton Head, S.C. With Memorial Day weekend on the horizon, Destin was out of the question, so they settled on Hilton Head, and it couldn't have worked out much better if they had planned that out from that start.

"I mean you talk about the best vacation ever," Garrison said. "We sat on the beach, the hotel was right on the water, had three or four different kinds of pools. They had a cafe right on the water and a wooden deck overlooking the beach."

The best part about all of it? No gymnastics. Well, for the most part, anyway.

"Rachel understood when I had to take a phone call because I was only gone for five minutes and then back to vacation again," said Garrison.

In the past, he was happy just to get away from the office and spend some time with his family, but with limited work obligations, Garrison never realized just how crucial it was to spend legitimate time to recharge the batteries.

"I don't think I knew how important it was until I did it," said Tim Garrison. "It was one of those deals where you go through it and you're like, 'Yeah, that was needed.' That kind of thing. Yeah, it was nice to not have anything to do with it for a week, even though I was still answering emails and calls.

"It was great because I got to connect again with my family and not go recruit and rush off from the hotel. I didn't have to leave at all."

As enjoyable and relaxing as Hilton Head was, that wasn't the only family time that he was able to spend so far this summer. Last Christmas, Garrison bought his daughters tickets to the One Direction concert in Louisville, Ky. The concert just happened to fall on a weekend: a Sunday.

One Direction, if you're not familiar, is a huge hit boy band with quite a following that is made up primarily of girls in the age range of 8-16 (roughly). The date of the concert was not only a Sunday, but it also happened to land, unbeknownst to Garrison, on June 16, otherwise known as Father's Day.

"I had no idea. Had no idea," said Garrison. "But really, it was a great Father's Day because they were so happy."

Taige and Teagan as sisters could not have much more different personalities. Garrison describes Taige as a "girly-girl" that can be shy until you get to know her. Tegan, on the other hand, is like, "Whatever, dude. That kind of girl."

So as One Direction was introduced to the stage -as the screams of tens of thousands of screaming girls pierced the eardrums of the patrons occupying the KFC Yum! Center - Garrison took video footage of his girls instead of watching the introduction itself. And those exact personalities manifested on camera.

"It was so funny to watch, if you didn't know them at all, their personalities were revealed as soon as One Direction was introduced," said Garrison. "It was cute. I'm filming them and not paying attention to what's going on the stage and Taige bawls. She is just bawling and crying. Real tears streaming down her face. And Tegan is just like, 'Yeah!' and jumping up and down. And that was perfect. That was them to a T."

Garrison also said that after that experience that it might be his first and last One Direction concert.

"I think I'd rather stick my head into a jet engine rather than do that again," Garrison said. "I actually really enjoyed the show, but once that Harry (Styles) would start talking it was like someone had an ice pick drilling into my ears."

The fun and games are for all intents and purposes over for the summer, however, as Garrison and his staff make their final preparations for camp, which is up to 145 campers, and the third straight season in which the camps have grown. The growth is no surprise, however, after Garrison has made great strides in just two seasons at UK as his Wildcats have rewritten the record books.

With their success and a more visual presence on television and other media outlets, the word is spreading about Garrison's program. As soon as camp is finished, it will be time to get back in the gym and continue to build on the foundation that's been laid in the past couple of seasons.

"All of these things that point to us being better this year, we've got to avoid thinking like that," Garrison said. "Other than gaining confidence from it, but thinking you're good to the point that you're inactive, that's what we need to avoid."

If Garrison's team can remain as active and enjoy their time in the gym as much as he has this summer, Kentucky will be in for a banner year in 2014.

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