(This is part two of a series that began in the April 26 issue of The People’s Defender)
By Mark Carpenter –
Basketball runs in the blood of the Arey family. The present head coach of the Peebles Indians is Josh Arey, whose father David was a member of the Indians’ hoops program, and since being named the head coach of the Tribe, Josh has had the opportunity to coach both of his sons, Trent and Tanner.
“The hardest thing about coaching your own kid is that they can’t be your kid,” says Josh. “You have to look at them just like every other kid and be careful that you don’t say something to them that you wouldn’t say to another player. It takes practice to get to that point. With Trent first and then Tanner next year, the hardest thing is watching them leave. You don’t take enough time to sit and be a parent and appreciate what they have done until after the fact. I kind of envy the people sometimes that just get to sit up in the stands and watch.”
“You can’t replace the time that you get to spend with your kid because you do get to be with them all the time and watch their progression as a player. I am fortunate that I get to spend the winters and summers that I have gotten to spend with my sons. Not a lot of Dads get to say that. You don’t get the time back and it goes so quickly.”
“There is the extra criticism that comes with playing for my Dad,” says Tanner. “He probably looks at me a little more than anyone else, but overall he does a really good job of keeping things fair.”
“I have never gotten on either of the boys once we get home,” said Josh. “We try to leave all that in the gym or in the car ride because once you walk through the front door, I’m Dad and he’s son and you have to maintain that relationship. I’ve never wanted a bad pass or a missed shot to interfere with that.”
For Trent, his thoughts mirror those of his Dad and younger brother.
“The best part was the amount of time we were spending together doing something that we both really cared about,” said Trent. “We won together and we lost together. Having said that, we always maintained a healthy balance between basketball and time at home. Practice wasn’t any different for me than it was for other players. He expected more out of me, but he never put me above the team.”
“The worst part was the losses. I’ve watched my Dad put countless hours into scouting and practice to make sure that Peebles has the best opportunity to win every time they stepped on the floor. When they lose, he assumes all the responsibility and it’s tough to watch him after a loss.”
For Joey Darnell, his first year as the varsity head coach of the Manchester Greyhounds was an eventful one. The whole parent-kid issue came into play early when he was forced to suspend his son Chase for the first six games of the season because of an off-the-court issue. Still, the remainder of the 2016-17 season will stay in his memory for a long while.
“The toughest thing about coaching my son is that everything is magnified from the outside by people not in the program, they scrutinize more of what my kid does,” says Joey. “The good thing is that we get to share a common interest and spend quality time together, good moments and the bad. I had that proud Dad moment in our next to last game with Latham when Chase hit all those free throws that wrapped up the game. That’s when you kind of step back and think to yourself that it’s kind of cool to be his Dad.”
“I think I separated things during the game pretty well, but I think you saw two different players in Chase from last year to when I was on the sidelines. I felt like he really improved this year and I can’t question his hustle and ability on the court.”
“You always have to be on your toes and work that much harder than everybody else, says Chase of playing his senior year for his father. “I thought there was more pressure on me but the good thing was that I was always spending time with my Dad.”
“I probably did make more mistakes because I felt the pressure of Dad being there, but I will always remember all the good times and bad times we had together.”
At North Adams, Coach Rob Davis is a fixture on the sidelines for the Lady Devils’ varsity squad, and in a way coaching has come full circle for him as now his daughter Laynee, who once played for her Dad, is on the bench as an assistant coach. Davis has actually had the pleasure of coaching two daughters when you add in the years with daughter Cassie in the dark green and gold.
“Knowing that Laynee was my own kid, at first I didn’t treat her as just another player because I expected her to know everything,” said Coach Davis. “Our first summer practice I got on her pretty hard and she was pretty tore up about it, I think Dad came out instead of coach and from that day on I treated her just like the rest of them. I learned a lot from that first day, opened my eyes a little bit.”
“You have both sides telling you she should be playing more and that she is only playing because she is the coach’s daughter and that’s tough. We tried to leave everything in the gym. The hardest part was just trying not to be Dad, but just to be a coach and teacher. When it came to Cassie, it was even harder because she didn’t play quite as much as Laynee did. Cassie understood, but she also wanted to play which made it hard on me. In the end though, she appreciated all I did for her. People couldn’t say she played more because she was my daughter.”
“It was a joy to coach both of them.”
“I think living up to his expectations was the hardest thing,” said Laynee, who graduated from NAHS in 2012. “I tried to impress him and do my best but when I did struggle it was hard to know whether I was impressing the coach or the Dad. I think I was pretty coachable and usually let things go in one ear and out the other. I knew he knew what he was talking about and I loved playing for my Dad.”
“It was tough when people said I only played because of who I was, there was a little jealousy and I just dealt with it, but not many people get the opportunity to play for their Dad.”
For Laynee and her Dad, one of, if not the fondest memory, will be of “The Shot”, a buzzer-beating three pointer that Laynee hit to beat Peebles in her senior season.
“It really doesn’t sink in until later that it was your daughter that hit the shot,” says Rob. “But it is a great memory we both have.”
Not all of these local coaching situations take place on the hardwood. For the past two springs, West Union head baseball coach Joe Kramer has had the pleasure of coaching his son Janson, who is a senior this year.
“Some parts are weird,” says Janson. “Instead of calling him Dad, I have to call him Coach, though it does slip sometimes. If I make a mistake, I might hear about it later.”
“I tell the team that they should be glad not to be in Janson’s shoes, he has to live it 24/7,” says Joe. “Because he’s around me so much, I expect his knowledge and understanding to be a little higher. I coached his older brother (Bryce) also and I always tell them to just do their best. If you do your best, then you will get what you should get. You’ll get the ground balls you’re supposed to get, you’ll hit the pitches you’re supposed to hit. As long as they do that, they will never disappoint me.”
“The hardest thing is just trying to be completely objective and fair. I will sometimes see what I want to see and not what I should see and that is difficult because you want your son to do well. I expect him to get the game-winning hit or make the game-winning play.”
I think it’s good for kids to play for someone other than their parents,” Joe added. “They get their parents’ instruction 24/7 and the change of pace is good. Having other adults give Janson advice and correction has been good for his development.”
On the softball field, Peebles head coach Doug McFarland can pencil his daughter Aubrey into his lineup now that she has returned from injuries that have plagued her the past couple of seasons.
“The great thing about coaching Aubrey is that I get to enjoy every day of her journey with her,” Doug says. “Being able to be at every practice and game is very special to me, seeing her improve and become a wonderful teammate and leader is very rewarding and something I will never forget.”
“The down side is that I have to get on her after a mistake and sometimes team mistakes are voiced through her. The other drawback is definitely having to see her injured. Carrying her off the court in her sophomore basketball season was one of the toughest things for me, not knowing how to help her was awful.”
“I think there is always some extra pressure, especially being a coach’s daughter,” Doug continued. “The pressure is probably worse for her. She is somewhat of a perfectionist, so I know she is pushing herself above and beyond to make sure she does everything exactly the way I want it. Our after game talks are mostly discussing what happened during the game and what can make us better. I have been fortunate enough to either coach or assist for all three of my children and I will take away a lifetime of memories that we will share forever.”
“I get to work with my Dad in a sport that we both love and have a passion for,” says Aubrey. “I get to make memories with him that I will carry the rest of my life because not everyone gets to have their Dad as a coach. I never realized how much he actually knew about the game until he started coaching. If I ever want to know what I did wrong in a game, he’ll tell me that evening when we get home.”
“Of course, I am expected to know every thought and reason for why each player does what they do. If the team isn’t doing what they should be, I’m the one who takes the heat from Dad. Even with that, I wouldn’t have wanted to go through high school playing softball for anyone else, we have built a bond with softball and it’s something we like to watch in our free time, usually supporting the UK Lady Cats.”
In the arenas of softball and track and field, North Adams coach Kelly Boerger has had the opportunity to coach two of her own children and like most of the others the Defender spoke to, she has memories that will last forever.
“Having the opportunity to coach my own children has been a blessing,” says Boerger. “It allowed me to share my passion for athletics with my kids and it gave me a chance to make memories that most parents do not get to make with their own. There are times when it was tough to stop coaching and be the parent, the overlapping of roles is hard to avoid. Coaches take their work home with them, therefore when you coach your own kid, they are bound to hear things the other kids on the team are not going to hear.”
“One of the tougher aspects of coaching your own kid is the fact that the rest of the team sees you as ‘so and so’s Mom’ instead of as the coach. Forcing that shift in the way the rest of the team looks at you can be a challenge, however, I wouldn’t change any of the decisions I’ve made in regards to coaching my own.”
The National Alliance for Youth Sports describes the characteristics of the bad and good parent coach. The bad parent coach is the person who agrees to coach because they believe their child is destined to be the next great sports star, the parent who agrees to coach so their child doesn’t sit on the bench, the coach that never made it as a young athlete and plans to do everything to make sure that doesn’t happen to their kid, or the coach who thinks if he shows favoritism to his/her own kid no one will like him, so he constantly berates his own child to the point where the child ends up hating sports.
Luckily, the coaches and players in this story in this story fall under the National Alliance’s definition of a good parent-coach-a parent who truly cares about kids and is just there because he/she sees the value is sports in developing young people.