About Our Team…
Bob was attracted to the underwater world and it’s inhabitants from childhood. After years of snorkeling he received his certification as a diver in 1973, With all of his spare time and money being spent diving, Bob decided to make it a career. He completed the Professional Scuba Instructor Total Immersion program run jointly by the Professional Association of Diving Instructors and Underwater Designers Corporation in Jacksonville, Florida.
In 1976 Bob was hired to teach diving and manage Gulf Coast Divers, a young dive business started by Tom Williams in 1972. Bob implemented a whole new approach in recreational dive training that emphasized more practical skills and learning, with less emphasis on memorizing specific formulas, physics laws and medical terminology. Bob didn’t care whether or not Gulf Coast Divers’s students knew what year a principal was first discovered or if they couldn’t name the person who first discovered it, as long as the concepts and principals were understood as they related to diving, and that the person was a safe, competent and comfortable diver.
To better accomplish this Bob has always emphasized learning to dive on the subconscious “auto-pilot” level. He says not only is it a safer way to dive, but also that it frees up your conscious attention to enjoy the dive rather than focus on equipment, techniques and survival.
Gulf Coast Divers’ new approach gained popularity rapidly, and within three years Gulf Coast Divers had also opened stores in Pensacola, Pascagoula, and Biloxi.
Bob had grown uncomfortable with his ability to control the quality of training at all stores with the rapid expansion, so he went to the business’s owner to offer a “choice of solutions”. This led to an agreement whereby Bob bought the Mobile and Pascagoula locations. He also expanded into the industrial/commercial diving business through a sister company that conducts a wide variety of underwater operations for numerous private businesses and governmental agencies.
Bob has obtained multiple certifications for various instructor ratings including Master Instructor and Instructor Trainer through various diver training agencies including SDI, TDI, SSI, YMCA, INDI, PADI, and CMAS. He also completed EMT training (Emergency Medical Technician) through the University of South Alabama to gain the knowledge in case it was ever needed within a diving context.
Bob’s instructional techniques and class philosophies evolved into today’s VIP-PACE diver training program offered by Gulf Coast Divers. Thousands of divers have been trained through this program, and it has gained a solid reputation of producing divers who are better trained and more comfortable than divers who were not trained under the VIP-PACE system.
Hugh has had career life experiences that make him a great fit for scuba education and leadership. He began his career as an educator in 1992. After 22 years as an educator he retired from the Mobile County Public School System. He then hit the re-set button by bringing his substantial gifts to Gulf Coast Divers in 2013. His helpful and friendly nature and desire to help divers has made Hugh a big asset for Gulf Coast Divers and divers along the gulf coast.
Hugh and his family were initially certified at Gulf Coast Divers in 1983, and he completed Advanced Open Water certification in 1987. Hugh says he and his wife enjoyed diving in the BC period (Before Children) but sadly let it slip for a few years to meet the obligations and demands of family and career. Happily for us at Gulf Coast Divers, he revived his passion and spirit for diving and underwater exploration, and now enjoys utilizing his teaching skills to share that passion and spirit with new divers.
Since joining the Gulf Coast Diver’s dive team, Hugh has updated or completed several dive specialties and is First Aid and O2 trained, rescue certified and is a level one instructor.
Hugh’s enjoyment of sharing his passion and experience with future divers is apparent as he helps new students with their introduction to the underwater environment. He says one of his biggest rewards is seeing the excitement of new divers as they discover the joys of diving.
Lawren was certified with Gulf Coast Divers in 1985 at the age of 15 when his parents gave him scuba classes as a Christmas present. He has been hanging around Gulf Coast Divers ever since, sharing his passion for diving, introducing others to the underwater world, and helping divers maximize their diving experiences.
Lawren earned his initial instructor certification in 1994. He has been trained and has multiple certifications as a scuba equipment technician, has been a USCG licensed boat captain since 1999. He has also been certified as a commercial diver since 2003.
Lawren enjoys spearfishing, photography, cave diving, or just observing marine life, and still takes advantage of any opportunity to swim around underwater.
Like so many others, learning to dive changed Lawren’s life. He has often described his initial scuba class as “the best Christmas present I ever got!”.
Robin officially came on board in 2014, but if you ask her she’ll say she has been here for decades!! She is Bob’s youngest daughter and grew up around diving. She became certified as a diver in 1995. Her fear of sharks was dispelled when she encountered one on her first dive experience.
Robin earned degrees in both psychology and sociology at the University of West Alabama. After graduating she got married, worked in pre-school education and had her first two future divers before joining the staff of Gulf Coast Divers.
After re-discovered a love of the underwater world she got excited about sharing the world of diving with others. She was working on her divemaster certification when she became pregnant with her third child. This seems to have further fanned the flames of her desire to work with children, and she re-started our swim lessons program with “Rockin’ Robin’s School of Star Fish!
She spends much of her dry time scheduling sessions and keeping the instructor staff in-line and on time for their next class. If you call and are greeted with her perky voice you can hear the smile thru the phone! Robin has been described as a “continuous ray of sunshine” due to her always-positive attitude.
Terry Hall began diving in 1998. He soon began working at Gulf Coast Divers as his after school job and throughout his college years. After earning a degree as an electrical engineer, Terry entered the “real world” work force but was always an avid diver.
Terry got a reputation as an accomplished spearfisherman, but the lure of technical and cave diving drove his interest into the freshwater. Terry began his technical training and diving in 2004 and is now a Technical and Cave diving instructor. He teaches several technical and extended range courses at Gulf Coast Divers. Terry has worked on several research and exploration projects for underwater caves throughout Florida, North Alabama and Tennessee.
Even though most of his diving is in the extensive underwater cave systems on the gulf coast, he can still be sighted on the deck of the Oriskany every now and then.
Mike’s first interest in diving was inspired by photos a friend’s aunt brought back from trips to the Flower Gardens and oil rigs off the coast of Texas. Her photos of face-to-face encounters with massive Goliath Grouper and Basket Sponges tall enough to hide a diver were indelibly etched in his memory. The motivation of those incredible scenes drove him to overcome a childhood fear of sharks by learning everything he could about these graceful and powerful creatures. As a junior in college, he joined the Scuba Club and earned his Open Water certification in 1994. Within two years, he was a certified Dive Master and had logged dives in North Carolina, Ft. Lauderdale, Key West, Bimini, and Pensacola.
Mike started Navy flight school in September of 1996 in Pensacola, so diving necessarily took a back seat for a while. However, taking advantage of a tour of duty in Japan, he vacationed to Palau for a bucket list dive trip where Mantas, Black Tip Sharks, Napoleon Wrasse and numerous other fish abounded. Upon returning to Pensacola and the Gulf Coast in March of 2012 he finally had the chance to dive to his heart’s content. Not only did he enjoy the many local diving opportunities, he earned certification as an Open Water Scuba Instructor in order share the underwater world with new divers.
Mike’s last year in the Navy found him on the remote island of Diego Garcia, part of the British Indian Ocean Territory. In his free time, he volunteered to support the Territory’s Natural Resources Program Manager and they conducted coral bleaching surveys over the course of ten dives. He was also fortunate enough to assist a pair of visiting researchers tagging nesting Green Sea Turtles. On another bucket list trip, he spent a month in Thailand diving the North Andaman Sea. Upon retiring from the Navy in 2016, Mike returned to the Gulf Coast, primarily working dive charters in Pensacola, and came to Gulf Coast Divers in January of 2017. If you don’t see him under water, you may find Mike running, cycling, on a volleyball court, sailing, or snowboarding.
Gulf Coast Divers
1284 Hutson Drive
Monday thru Saturday
9:00AM - 6:00PM