April 23, 2014
Auburn head football coach Gus Malzahn calls bingo games at Oak Park Nursing Home on Wednesday (Lauren Barnard photo)
By Phillip Marshall
AUBURN, Ala. – As Gus Malzahn strode to the front of the Oak Park Nursing Home dining room, he cut loose with a “War Eagle!” He was there to call out bingo numbers for a roomful of residents and staff members.
“We’re going to do hurryup, no-huddle bingo,” Malzahn said to the cheers of most of those in attendance.
Later, when one player said he was going too fast, Malzahn was ready with an answer. “That sounds like some of our players,” he said. “Or it sounds like some of our opponents.”
That brought laughs and cheers from the crowd.
Jason Banks, the Oak Park director, said Malzahn’s visit was a big deal for the residents of the facility on Gateway Drive near Lee-Scott Academy.
“This is Tiger country,” Banks said. “You have folks who are 85-90 years old and have been Auburn fans all their lives. A lot of them have never met an Auburn football coach. They love bingo and they love Auburn football, so this is a great thing for them.
“This is the biggest deal for these guys. They are loving it.”
More than 100 Auburn coaches, administrators and staff members took part in the athletic department’s annual community service day. They cleared a bike trail at Chewacla State Park, worked on a Habitat for Humanity house, did numerous jobs and interacted with children at Boykin Community Center, did landscaping at painting at Pine Hills Cemetery office work at the United Way and more.
For more than an hour, Malzahn called out numbers and had engaged in banter with the residents and staff members. When the bingo was done, he signed autographs. Finally, he headed back to his office.
“We played a little hurryup, no-huddle bingo and they responded real well,” Malzahn said. “There were a lot of Auburn fans here, so it was real exciting. It was a lot of fun coming into the room. I heard a lot of ‘War Eagles.’ There was a lot of excitement in the room. We had a good morning.”
It is important, Malzahn said, for him and other coaches to be there for their communities.
“There’s no doubt,” Malzahn said. “Any time you can use your influence in a positive way and give back to the community, I think that is very important. All our coaches and players feel that way.”
Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow Marshall on Twitter: