Rom Wamer and Colin Gurry won’t hear their names amongst Tech’s starting five this Friday against Presbyterian. They will however have played a pivotal role in helping Tech prepare for the Blue Hose. The two are members of the “Iron 5”, a nickname bestowed upon Tech’s scout team. Gurry gives the full definition likely to make its way into Merriam-Webster’s soon, “The Iron 5 is a five (man) group of walk-ons. It’s me, Rand (Rowland), Aaron (Peek), Brooks (Doyle), and Ronnie (Wamer). Our basic job is really to be the scout team. In preparation for games we are going to look at the plays for other teams and run them in practice that ways the guys get a good chance to guard different types of action they are going to see during a game.” The nickname originated from strength and conditioning coach Mike Bewley, whose phrase “iron sharpens iron” is pronounced repeatedly during pregame weight lifting sessions.
The Iron 5 is a team within a team that serves as a unifying force for teammates Wamer and Gurry. Little did they know, but the homegrown Wamer and Connecticut native Gurry were in line to cross paths serving America before choosing to serve the White and Gold.
Ron Wamer had the opportunity to attend West Point after his graduation from Mill Creek High School but chose Tech “because it is a top engineering institute in the nation and also it is close to home.” Home is where Wamer’s heart is. His decision to attend Tech turned into a family matter. Upon considering the move to New York, “my mom didn’t want me to go and my dad said it was a great opportunity.” His older sister, Shoranda, was a big influencer on Wamer. An Electrical Engineering graduate in 2008, Shoranda bragged about the reputation of a Georgia Tech degree. She also offered advice from her experiences on The Flats: make friends in his classes, try to have a balanced life, and stop by a then-campus favorite restaurant called Junior’s, which to the dismay of Ron shut its doors a year before his arrival.
Collin Gurry was named the team MVP and senior captain of his Canton High School team that lead to interest from local colleges. Instead of staying close to home, Gurry traveled south for Georgia Tech for its academics and affiliation in the basketball power that is the ACC.
Gurry though always dreamed of a military career. “I always planned on being in the Air Force ROTC and going into the military after college. One of my school choices was going to be the Merchant Marine Academy in Long Island, New York. I was going to play ball there and do the cadet life and end up commissioning as an officer in the Air Force. Even though I came here I still wanted to do that and follow that career path. I think Aerospace Engineering is a great academic choice as far as being a good officer in the Air Force, so I think they all kind of work together pretty well.”
An easier decision that both made was choosing basketball over baseball at the college level after starring in both sports in high school. Gurry was a four-year letterman as a first baseman and outfielder while Wamer pitched and also played in the outfield. For Wamer, who wore #24 from little league through high school in as a reverse of his hero, Jackie Robinson, “it was always basketball. Baseball was less exciting to me because in-between plays there was so much time. Basketball is constant and up-tempo.” Wamer still admits not having seen the spring blockbuster, 42, but plans to on his next trip home.
In addition to taking the pains of Tech’s scout team against the big bodies of Robert Carter, Marcus Georges-Hunt, Daniel Miller, and so on, Wamer and Gurry signed up for a difficult route through the classroom. Gurry is an Aerospace Engineer while Wamer is an Industrial Engineer. Tech’s IE undergraduate program ranks 1st in the nation and its AE program is right behind at 2nd. If it already sounds like a crazy life, then take a look at what each of the student-athletes must balance.
For Gurry, “It gets crazy. I have ROTC days on Tuesday and Thursday. Obviously practice and homework everyday. Our academic staff helps out a lot with scheduling and helping get tutors. That takes some of the stress off me, which I appreciate. The coaching staff is pretty understanding about it if I have to leave early from practice for an Air Force thing. It really helps that they are understanding about that.” He balances it by taking advantage of every opportunity he can to unwind and catch up on sleep.
Wamer is in the midst of a 17-hour semester with a course load featuring classes in Engineering Economy, Stochastics, Spanish, Computer Science, and International Affairs. He has interests in concentrating on supply chains and lists BMW and Toyota as preferred options for postgraduate employment. In his breaks from school and basketball he makes the occasional trip home to do what every college student cherishes, clean laundry and a home cooked meal from his mom.
The preseason stretch has ended for Gurry and Wamer and their practice duties will shift from day to day as the season begins with each hoping to hear his name called during the 2013-14 season. The stresses of Ma Tech will only increase as final exams appear on the horizon and key nonconference games approach on Tech’s schedule. As Gurry, Wamer, and any student of the Institute can tell you, Iron is the most common element forming our planet Earth. For these two members of the Iron 5, their lives as student-athletes are anything but common.