Some Smith-Cotton High School coaches take on the challenge of not only leading a team but also coaching a sport in which their child competes.
Assistant wrestling coach Tom Kindle said he is there to help run the program, not just coach his son.
“If anything, it’s unfair to our children because other kids get to go home and take a break,” Kindle said. “But our kids get to hear it at practice and at home.”
Kindle keeps a fair coaching strategy by working with all of the wrestlers, not just his son. Brody Kindle said he is not treated any differently than the other wrestlers.
“They don’t favor us,” Brody said. “It’s pretty equal.”
Kindle and the other coaches want not only their sons but all members on the wrestling team to excel, so they keep the treatment on the mat unbiased.
S-C Wrestling Head Coach Charlie McFail and Kindle grew up wrestling together, and now they coach their sons together. Both agree that they can’t push their success as high school wrestlers on their sons.
“I’m not living my wrestling career through my son,” Kindle said. “He is his own person and his own wrestler, but I have expectations.”
McFail’s son, Nate, and Kindle’s son, Brody, think differently.
“There’s a lot of motivation,” Brody said. “We want to live up to their expectations because we know how good they were in high school.”
Nate and Brody both said having their fathers as coaches pushes them to want to do better. Having their dad on the sideline can be nerve-wracking but it also is an advantage because their dads have a lot of experience and they know what to expect.
S-C assistant girls swimming coach Michelle Steger said that while coaching her daughter, Makenna, it is not a challenge to keep the attention on the whole team.
“I work with beginning swimmers,” Steger said. “So I don’t often get to coach my daughter, but I check in sometimes just to see how she’s doing.”
Steger says that at the last swim meet the team had, her daughter and another team member were in the same race and in lanes right next to each other. The other team member beat Makenna by 1/100th of a second, but Steger cheered them both on as if they were both her children. Steger encourages her daughter to call her “Coach,” but sometimes it’s hard for Makenna to remember.
Another assistant wrestling coach, Mike Pomajzl, has been coaching his son, Blake, since he was 4-years old.
“I like it because he knows me better than anyone else,” Blake said, “and he’s not afraid to tell (me) straight up when he sees something I’m doing wrong.”
Pomazl said he and Blake have many hobbies, but wrestling is something they both connect with.
Pomajzl and Blake agree that even at home, wrestling is the talk of the house. Both father and son have a passion for wrestling and it’s a big part of their life. But Pomajzl also doesn’t favor his son when it comes to having to coach him on a team.
“I coach each kid as best as I can and show no favoritism to my son, so that I can make our team the best it could be,” Pomajzl said.
McFail said coaching your child has advantages and disadvantages.
“I’m a family man,” McFail said, “so having my sons, Nate and Jake, wrestling and my daughter, Lauren, as our manager, I enjoy getting to be with them all the time.”
Kindle and McFail agreed that sometimes it’s hard because they don’t just get to sit down and watch their child compete.
“As a coach, you’re always looking for something,” McFail said. Kindle added, “Always looking for improvement, what they did right, what they did wrong, and sometimes you don’t get to just watch.”
Meredith Kemp is a Smith-Cotton High School student.