Robert Slocum didn’t want to attend private school as a little boy.
He wanted to play for his dad, Robert Slocum Sr., who was the football head coach for 12 years at Ballard-Hudson in Macon prior to the integration of schools.
Slocum Sr. sent his son, the oldest of five children, to St. Joseph’s and later Mount de Sales to get a Catholic education.
“Teenagers don’t always know what’s best,” Slocum Jr. said. “He had a lot of foresight to make that sacrifice for us.”
Slocum went on to be a star athlete at Mount de Sales and returned as a coach. He took over as the football head coach in 1991, replacing his high school coach, Mike Garvin.
Slocum’s time as the head coach came to an end Thursday.
He stepped down after 23 seasons as the head coach but will remain the school’s athletics director as it jumps from the GISA to the GHSA in 2014.
“I just felt like it was a good opportunity for a fresh start with us going to a new league,” Slocum said.
Assistant coach and fellow Mount de Sales alum Keith Hatcher is taking over as the football head coach. Hatcher returned to Macon before the 2013 season to serve as defensive coordinator.
“We brought Keith on board with this intention,” Slocum said.
Slocum went 134-134-2 as the head coach. He had five 10-win seasons and led the Cavaliers to the 1996 GISA state championship.
“Robert is a good coach, but he’s a great person,” said Howard head coach Barney Hester, who coached against Slocum for years as the head coach at Tattnall Square. “I have a lot of respect for him.”
Slocum first made his name as a standout running back at Mount de Sales. He was in school for all three GHSA state football championships (1970, 1971, 1973). He started as a running back on the 1973 championship team, rushing for 1,236 yards.
Slocum played football at Savannah State and then quickly returned to Macon in 1978 to coach at Mount de Sales.
He led the boys basketball team from 1981-95, leading the Cavaliers to six region championships, five appearances in the GISA championship game and state championships in 1992 and 1993. Slocum was inducted into the Mount de Sales Sports Hall of Fame in 2008.
Slocum took over the football program from his mentor Garvin in 1991. After a few lean seasons, the Cavaliers won nine games in 1994 and followed that with four consecutive 10-win seasons.
The Cavaliers beat Tattnall Square 29-27 in the 1996 championship game, and the two teams played for the championship again one year later, with Tattnall winning the rematch 35-34 in overtime.
“I felt like we had the best team in (1996), and I thought he had them better prepared,” Hester said. “I think they were probably better than us the next year when we won it.”
With Hester’s departure to Howard in 2013, Slocum was the longest tenured football coach in the GISA. He and Westfield’s Ronnie Jones are the only two head coaches with more than 15 years at their school. Slocum is sixth in wins all-time among active Middle Georgia coaches behind Hester, Jones, Roger Holmes (Dublin), Erik Soliday (Perry) and Mark Farriba (Stratford).
Slocum will steer the Cavaliers in their move to the GHSA. He said he might coach some middle school sports. Mount de Sales is also adding lacrosse, and Slocum said one of his biggest priorities will be to secure a coach and getting that program going.
“It’s getting harder and harder to coach football and do all of the administrative tasks as an AD, even with an assistant AD,” he said.
Like Slocum, Hatcher has quite the history at Mount de Sales.
Hatcher started for three years on the football field, earning All-Middle Georgia honors as a junior and senior in 1995-96. He started on Slocum’s 1996 championship team. He was also an all-state baseball and basketball player.
Hatcher played college football at Mars Hill before going into the college football coaching ranks after graduation.
He served on the coaching staffs at Valdosta State, Murray State and Georgia Southern with his cousin Chris Hatcher, who is also a Mount de Sales alum.