Thinking about career possibilities after college, law enforcement seemed like a natural fit for Sgt. Garic Warner, a 15-year veteran of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, who had somehow always managed to fall into the role of protector throughout his life.
"Growing up, we moved around a lot so I was always the new kid, and I somehow always gravitated toward the kids that got picked on a lot. I always sort of fell into that protective role," recalled Warner, 40, of Marietta.
On the Otterbein University football team, Warner continued to fill the role of protector, playing center-a position designed to protect the quarterback, he said.
JASMINE ROGERS The Marietta Times
Lt. Carlos Smith, left, presents Sgt. Garic Warner, right, with his 15 year service pin from the Ohio State Highway Patrol Friday at the Marietta Post of the OSHP.
Despite his natural inclination to serve and protect, transitioning into law enforcement was not easy at first. He first applied to the Reynoldsburg Police Department, but the department was concerned with Warner's speech impediment, he said.
"They were concerned with how well I could communicate under pressure," he recalled.
Warner looked into some speech therapy. Additionally, the OSHP did not seem to have an issue with Warner's stuttering.
Occupation: Sergeant at Ohio State Highway Patrol Marietta Post.
Family: Wife, Lesley, daughter Delaney, and sons Tyler and Ryley.
Hobbies: Coaching, weightlifting, running and reading nonfiction.
"In the academy you're under a lot of stress and they were pretty comfortable with how well I communicate," he said.
Reynoldsburg's loss was the patrol's gain, said Warner's supervisor, Lt. Carlos Smith.
"He has a passion for what he does. He wants to not only see the troopers succeed, but he wants Washington County to know we're out here," said Smith.
After being promoted to Sergeant and moving to Marietta a year and a half ago, Warner has become involved in numerous community activities and has helped spearhead the patrol's charity campaign, said Smith.
The charity, Operation Feed, aims to collect food and funds for area food pantries and is a personal passion for Warner.
"Growing up it was just me and my single mom. I wouldn't say we were poor, but there were times when we struggled to make ends meet," he said.
Warner recently organized a volleyball game, pitting troopers against Marietta High School students to raise money for both Operation Feed and a high school charity.
"The best part about Operation Feed is all that stuff we get stays right here in Washington County. These are the people we live with, the people our kids go to school with. And we want to do more of that kind of stuff," he said.
Warner also coaches Marietta High School football and has organized a flag football activity for area kindergarten through fifth graders, which takes place Sundays from 2 to 4 p.m. at Don Drum Stadium.
"We're looking to start a flag football league for the fourth graders in the fall and maybe get them out of the contact league," he noted.
The pick-up games are free and have been well attended by children in both Ohio and West Virginia, he said.
In fact, football is such a passion for Warner that he is hoping to coach college football when he retires from the patrol. He's currently working on his masters degree in Coaching Education from Ohio University.
But retirement is quite a while away, and Warner still has goals within the patrol, he said.
"I absolutely want to become a lieutenant. Personally, I feel there are still a lot of areas I need to grow in. There's still a lot more I want to learn and do, but it's definitely a goal," he said.
And Warner could never see himself taking a position that took him too far from the road.
"I like being a road sergeant where I can still work the road sometimes. Weekends I try to get out on the road a bit and look for drunk drivers to get those off the road," he said.
Smith honored Warner Friday with his 15-year service pin.
"He kind of embeds himself in a community and goes at it full blast," said Smith.