Although Nancy and Gary’s last name — Curry — is familiar to Key West residents, Gary clarified, “My family is from St. Petersburg.”
They are the Key West High School co-coaches of a sport often handled by one person — tennis. The pair are also co-teachers, working out of the same room where they teach English, an uncommon arrangement in most schools.
Gary and Nancy, who are now 56 years old, met 38 years ago at the University of South Florida, he from St. Petersburg, she from Belmar, New Jersey. At the end of their first year at USF, they eloped and embarked on travels that would take them to numerous cities and countries, including teaching at the American School in Saudi Arabia. Along the way, both earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
They spent eight years at three different schools in Saudi Arabia. “Besides teaching, we co-coached several sports there,” said Gary Curry. “Basketball, badminton, table tennis. The Indians and Pakistanis love their sports, particularly table tennis.”
Gary has been playing tennis “forever,” he said. “My father owned a tennis center in St. Pete.”
Soon, Nancy was playing as well, learning at the family center in Deland, Florida. “If I wanted to be part of the Curry family, I had to play tennis,” she told me recently as the three of us chatted at the high school.
“Working together as co-teachers is a popular model elsewhere, just not in Key West; also not by husbands and wives,” Gary said. But they convinced the Key West people in charge that they could go in that direction. So they were hired as co-teachers at Horace O’Bryant Middle School, where they spent five years. They’re now into their second year at the high school.
Since their English class size has enlarged as they split the duties, they earn salaries that are commensurate with having classes of their own. When Paul Findlay was unable to continue as coach of the boys and girls tennis teams this year, the Currys applied and were hired as co-coaches who split the duties. Gary instructs the boys and Nancy the girls. With tennis, a spring sport, their seasons will begin in mid-February. They’ll also be switching teams when it is deemed valuable.
They are also teaching English as a second language. “We only speak English, so we don’t give the students a crutch,” said Gary. They have also co-taught math, science, reading, physical education and gifted children.
“But we are learning Spanish,” Nancy offered. “We mix them up, teaching separate groups. There’s a lot of movement.”
Since they live together and work together, both have found other outlets. “I like to paint and I like to say I’m learning to play the piano,” said Gary.
“I like to write,” said Nancy. “I play the guitar and the trumpet.” But come February, this team will be focused on the tennis court.
Conchs grab District runner-up
Key West High’s football team took the runner-up spot in District 16-5A on Friday night by beating Jackson, 31-6, in Miami. The Conchs under Coach John Hughes completed their district schedule with a 2-1 record behind unbeaten Killian with Jackson and St. Brendan trailing the Conchs. Overall, Key West is 4-3.
Senior quarterback Preston Herce and junior running back James Reynolds each topped 100 yards rushing, with Herce at 109 on 18 carries and Reynolds 101 on 11 carries. Herce completed 3 of 6 passes with touchdowns of 32 and 22 yards to Michael Cates. Reynolds and sophomore Clerf Alexandre also scored a touchdown. Placekicker Darwin Correa added a 32-yard field goal and four extra points. Key West returns to the Backyard field at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 22, to take on Surge Academy of Hollywood.