Student-parent duos navigate dynamic of athlete and coach
Abby Waechter | Staff Writer
Coaches’ kids get treated differently. Even though parents and teammates think coaches’ kids get special treatment, it is usually the furthest thing from the truth.
Parents often try to coach their kids from the sidelines or on the drive home. After a while, a child can start to resent the parent coaching. But when your coach is actually your mom or dad, that brings in a whole new dynamic.
Varsity baseball player junior Brady Bly has to deal with being under the microscope of both skeptical parents and teammates. Brady knows that there are many eyes on him when he plays, none more critical than those of his dad, who happens to be longtime varsity head coach Curt Bly.
“He definitely holds me to a higher work ethic standpoint because I am his kid,” Brady Bly said.
Coach Bly said that, as a coach, he wants the same for all of his athletes. He wants them to have a season full of great performances. As a dad, Bly said that he tries not to overwhelm Brady while also silently expecting great things.
“Everyone wants great things from their kids,” Bly said. “But while that is true, I try my best as [Brady’s] coach to not put more pressure on him while also expecting the very best from him as a dad.”
Squashing the belief that Brady receives special treatment because the coach “happens to be his dad” is something that he communicates to his players by his actions. Coach Bly said that his team understands that the point of baseball is to win and that he makes objective decisions that he believes will help the team do so.
“When [putting Brady in] gives us the best chance to win that day, he plays like everyone else,” Bly said. “When he doesn’t give us the best chance to win that day, he won’t play, it’s that simple.”
For both Coach Bly and Brady, it is important that they are not always a coach-athlete duo. Brady said that he and his dad work well together in distinguishing boundaries between the two realms of being an athlete versus being a son.
“We do a pretty good job of keeping things separate,” Bly said. “At practice, he’s my coach, and when I go home he’s my dad.”
Although Brady has been working with his dad since the early days of his baseball career and served as the team bat-boy when he was ten, Coach Bly said that he still thinks it is important to just be Brady’s dad when they go home for the day, allowing his son to escape from the stress of the game, especially after tough practices.
“It’s important that we agree to keep the baseball side of our relationship on the field and the home and family at home,” Bly said. “I don’t want [Brady] to have an experience where he has no downtime because all of the other players get to get away from me so it wouldn’t be fair if I was always on him.”
Unlike the Bly’s relationship on the baseball field that is relatively new, the Davis’ relationship on the lacrosse field is one that senior Claire Davis has “gotten used to.” Throughout her life, Davis has grown up with her dad coaching her, as he saw her transition from middle school as her coach to her high school career where he continued to coach her.
Davis said that having her dad coach her throughout a large portion of her lacrosse career has offered her and her dad a “special connection” both on and off the field. At home, Davis enjoys the fact that discussions regarding her athletic performance does not have to be limited to the lacrosse field. Although on the field, Claire is aware that a deeper connection comes with “a bit higher standard.”
“I kind of like the extra push because it helps me to be a better player every time I’m out on the field,” Davis said. “I also like being able to go home and talk about the practices and the games to see what he has to say about what went well and what could have gone better.”
At home, Coach Davis blends the connection between lacrosse and family when interacting with his daughter. Davis said that while he tries to stay away from coaching her at home, he feels that having an athlete as a daughter gives him the opportunity to see different perspectives of his coaching style.
“The line of separation between coach and father, athlete and daughter are important to keep well defined,” Davis said. “But also I am able to home and have some good discussions about ‘team’ with her.”
Davis feels as if the distinction of the line of separation between home and lacrosse is primarily crucial when he has to fulfill his duty as a coach and post the rosters and starters. Davis said that the hardest part of juggling the titles of “dad” and as a “coach” is making the roster and deciding where his daughter is going to play in a game.
“In a particular situation where [Claire] doesn’t get to start, and then I have to explain to her my reasoning as to why is sometimes a challenging conversation to go home with,” Davis said. “I have to have that conversation as both a coach and a dad, whereas a coach I made the decision and as a dad, I have to smooth it over.”
As a coach, it is Davis’ job to see that all of his athletes are working hard in order to display the skills needed in order to ensure the team’s success. Davis said that while he enjoys having the opportunity to spend an extra two hours with his daughter every day, he understands that as a coach he will have to make sure that he does not give his daughter special attention.
“She is my favorite and I tell the entire team that,” Davis said. “They all know and understand that I’m tough on her, but that I also hold her accountable.”
Coach Davis said that he is not shy to admit that he is just as hard on his daughter as he is on all of the other players, if not harsher on her. For example, when Claire Davis did not abide by his rule of bringing a penny to practice every day, Coach Davis did not allow her to practice that day and left Claire “emotional” for the rest of the practice. While Claire refers to the penny incident as more of an annoying “trauma,” Coach Davis views it as a “lesson learned” and an example of how he does not give special treatment to his daughter.
Davis said that while at times it can be difficult for her dad to also be her coach, the relationship that she has built with him is one that is unlike any other.
“Some days it is hard because I will go home not wanting to talk to him because we are both mad at each other,” Davis said. “But at the end of the day, we both know he’s my dad above anything else.”
Photo by Abby Waechter