With A New Heart, Gerald Warman Has A Passion For Coaching- Heart Transplant Recipient Continues To Coach Softball
MADISON- A visit to the Urgent Care Clinic in Madison changed Gerald Warman’s life in an instant. Seeing physicians in 2014 for a bad cough led the attending healthcare givers to take an X-ray for further assistance to determine what was awry with the otherwise healthy Warman. What they found was what he called, “A punch to the gut.”
Physicians urged him to immediately consult with a cardiologist as he was diagnosed with an enlarged heart and he was soon diagnosed even further with cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle that makes it harder for the heart to pump blood to the remainder of the body. The walls of the heart harden and become less flexible not allowing the heart to properly pump blood.
Attending specialists at UAB Hospital in Birmingham, Warman was soon treated with medications and was surgically inserted with an LVAD, which is a pump that is used for patients with end-of-use heart failure. Warman was soon told he would need a heart transplant to survive.
“I had no idea I was in trouble,” said Warman of his finding out his heart was at 35-percent of his normal function. “The news changed my life on the spot. It stopped me in my tracks.”
Warman, 52, is a longtime softball coach and has been the personal coach to his daughter, Kamyrn, who recently graduated from Sparkman High and signed a scholarship to play college softball at Boston College University. He and his wife, Melissa, of 19 years also have a son, Gerald, III, who is 15. Warman is a fulltime hitting coach tending to around 70 students utilizing his “Attack Hitting” lessons at The Compound training facility in Madison. He rents a hitting cage and utilizes his own equipment in teaching young hitters age five and older the fundamentals of hitting both physically and mentally.
In 2014 while attending a softball tournament in Memphis, Warman found himself to be in dire straits with his health. He couldn’t move. He quickly came home and went back to UAB for a checkup. Once he arrived in downtown Birmingham he was told he couldn’t leave, that doctors needed to assess his condition and treat him immediately. The LVAD device was inserted and he went through a battery of treatments, as well as, put on the list for a new heart.
He was ultimately allowed to return home in Madison, but just eight days later he was called back to UAB as a heart donor was located from a 30-year old Mobile man who was a perfect match. In Aug. of 2014, Warman was fitted with a new heart during the 10-hour procedure.
“Melissa and I lived in Birmingham for six weeks during my recuperation as I have been lucky as my body has not rejected my new heart,” said Warman. “I will remain in medication the remainder of my life. I’m continuing to be susceptible to being sick, but I have a passion for what I do. My doctors have advised me to stay active, so my work as a hitting coach is perfect for me.”
Standing 6-foot-5 and weighing in at 300 pounds, Warman is a man of a big stature, but he’s also big in his attempt to help others. His Attack Hitting program usually adheres to groups of four at $35 per hour per participant. He handles training sessions five days a week and contact is available via Facebook and Instagram.
“Everything I teach is the same across the board no matter the age of the player,” said Warman, who is also a diabetic.
As an athlete at a young age, Warman played both basketball and baseball and received a scholarship to play basketball for a junior college. Upon becoming an adult, he played basketball and softball and once suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon. He ceased his playing days and concentrated on being a sports dad.
When asked how he has survived through this enormous life-changing times, he said, “I want to see my kids graduate high school and college. I felt so bad for so long, I forgot how it felt to feel good. Prior to my heart surgery I had my come-to-Jesus meeting. I was afraid I would not wake up to see my family again.”
Warman is a reserved individual who doesn’t look for sympathy nor does he look for outpouring attention about his life-changing experience. He tells others to don’t be afraid to be great. He teaches his hitting students to worker harder, longer and make the choice to be better.
“The road I’ve been on has been rough, but things I thought were difficult before don’t seem so hard now,” said Warman. “Softball, like life, is a game of failure, and I teach those I coach how to balance their emotions and how to come back from any failures.”