M-S coaches and their kids: Three coaches share what it's like having their child on their roster

It is not unusual to see a coach's child playing in a high school varsity game.

What is a bit more unusual is having three different parents coaching their children at the varsity level in the same school year.

This school year, the Mahomet-Seymour High School had just that.

Former varsity basketball coach Chad Benedict coached his son, senior Noah Benedict.

Varsity football coach Keith Pogue coached his son, senior David Pogue.

And varsity volleyball coach Stacey Buzicky coached her daughter, junior Hannah Buzicky.

The responsibility of coaching a child at the varsity level comes with many rewards, but it also can have its pitfalls.

And as demonstrated below, the experience is different for each parent and child, and in the case of these three, each parent and child had different rules on how much to blend sports with home life or how much to separate them.

 

Chad and Noah Benedict

Chad Benedict had been coaching Noah at the varsity level since his son's sophomore year.

In fact, the first incident Chad had with playing Noah as a sophomore was not about playing him too much, but rather not playing him not enough.

At a team meeting, captain Tom Kenney asked Chad who he thought the five starters should be and that he needed to leave politics and parents out of the equation.

"The question really bothered me because I have never made playing time decisions based on that stuff," Chad said. "I told him so, too. He then proceeded to tell me that I was the one holding Noah back and that because I was his dad, I wasn't giving him a fair shot and that he needed to play more and start."

After that meeting, Noah saw more playing time and became a starter on a team that had a great second half of the season and won a regional title.

One aspect of coaching nearly all will admit is that coaching takes a lot of time and effort away from family, but coaching a child finally combines the two.

"It has been rewarding experience to coach Noah," Chad said. "There are certainly pros and cons to the experience. Noah and I are both really lucky. We have had good teams that have great kids who understand the dynamic. Our players have let it be rewarding. I am very grateful to our players for that."

The three-year experience had left Chad with countless fantastic memories, including ones that have nothing to do with coaching.

"Winning a regional title and conference championship is very rewarding," Chad said. "However for me, I have been lucky to watch him grow as a person with his teammates. The opportunity to get to watch him practice basketball and take the life lessons that sports can teach you and put them to work in his own way is what is most rewarding."

As a father of three, Chad had to be aware to keep his "time card" equal with his two other children, Caleb and Faith.

"Noah and I spend a lot of time together because of my job and his being a part of the team," Chad said. "I have to make sure that Noah and I aren't just basketball and that Caleb and Faith get their time with me. My wife is outstanding in helping me manage this."

One of the things Chad has tried to do was treat Noah like everyone else.

Chad developed Noah's role on the team based on his skill set as a player and as a leader.

"That is no different than what we do for any other player in our program," Chad said. "I don't want that to change."

Chad preferred separating basketball from home life. When Noah was a sophomore, Chad refused to talk about basketball at home.

But eventually, that line between basketball and home life crossed over.

"I really wanted that line drawn," Chad said. "It was really awkward. Becky (his wife) sat the two of us down and said you guys need to talk about it. You have always talked about it. Since then, that line has been blurred."

Chad and Noah did not discuss every practice or game, but if Noah wanted to talk about a specific part of what happened that week, Chad listened.

"There are times that he likes to talk about it and there are times he doesn't," Chad said. "I kind of leave it up to him. He loves watching film on games and upcoming opponents. He will ask me about matchups and defensive schemes.

"I sometimes will ask him about a certain drill in practice and get his perspective as to what we could do to make it better. If there is something specific that I feel needs to be addressed, I do it with him at school just like any other player."

 

Stacey and Hannah Buzicky

For Stacey and Hannah, a junior, it is nearly impossible to separate volleyball from home life.

Stacey also has a son, who was a freshman, and a husband, Mike, who loves to watch and talk about all sports.

"I am not very good about shutting off my coaching thoughts so I appreciate when my family is honest with me," Stacey said. "We do talk about practices, strategies and games. I like to hear what they have to say. As with most people, we celebrate the wins; we discuss the losses; and we hope that our kids compete in sports because they enjoy it."

Stacey also admits that it was rewarding to get to be with Hannah this season, but it is nothing new.

Stacey has been coaching Hannah since her daughter started playing volleyball at age 10.

Along with volleyball, she has coached Hannah in soccer, basketball, softball, cheerleading, gymnastics and dance through Mahomet Recreation, travel clubs and Twist and Shout.

"My husband and I have always coached our two children and countless other children in our community," she said. "The most rewarding moments, though, have come from the times we spend on the road, the long evenings where we get to talk about her day at school, her classes, her goals and dreams beyond high school and how she feels each night about the volleyball match she is going to play."

Stacey is also grateful for the opportunity to watch Hannah learn to serve her community by volunteering at the summer camps and with the volleyball team's service projects.

Stacey's most difficult part of coaching Hannah was watching her navigate the pressure of being a junior starter.

"It is unrealistic for her to have to feel like she cannot make mistakes or that she is never good enough," Stacey said. "It is really sad that adults and peers hold her to that standard."

Stacey also admits that as Hannah's coach, she is guilty of being harder on Hannah than other players.

"It is a tough place for a kid," Stacey said. "We knew it would be difficult, but we had no idea how much pressure she would feel. The most difficult part for me is knowing that each decision I make regarding the team seems to have a more lasting effect on Hannah.

"Instead of the negativity being directed at the coaching staff, it gets targeted at your kid as well. It is unfortunate and hurtful."

In the fall, Stacey will have another season with Hannah, and as a senior, Hannah will be coming into the season as one of the Bulldogs' top returning letter winners.

 

Keith and David Pogue

Varsity football coach Keith Pogue and son David have a different approach when it comes to separating football from home life.

"I think I do a pretty good job of leaving football at school," Keith said. "I will talk football if he brings it up, but I have always felt our kids need their space away from the sport."

Pogue, who is father of four, does not comment on how his younger children — Carly (junior), Steve (eighth grade) and Keegan (sixth grade) — play in their youth games.

Instead, he always says he enjoyed watching them play and that he loves them.

"They don't need their dad in their ear about how to improve or being critical," Keith said.

Keith does not only get to coach David, but he has Carly and David in his academic classes as well.

Still, David's senior season of football was particularly rewarding for Keith, and the most rewarding part of coaching David had to do with development on and off the field.

"The most rewarding was seeing David mature into a quality young man and having him contribute to the football team this season," Keith said. "He made several good tackles this season, which was great to see. Hugging him after games is probably my favorite moment."

For Keith, coaching a child was not difficult until David's senior year.

"Up until this season, it has not been difficult at all," Keith said. "David was not good enough to start or get significant minutes in varsity games. I know it was difficult for him, but I was always able to point out to parents who claimed playing time was based on 'favoritism' how nonsensical that was in light of the fact my own child was on the bench."

But through hard work and maturation, along with injuries and lack of depth, David not only played his senior year, but he also started.

"A coach's son has to make it painfully obvious they deserve playing time, even then, some folks are going to see it as favoritism," Keith said. "I have been pretty hard on him in team film a few times."

One of the season's moments that hit Keith the hardest was senior night.

The Bulldogs had just become playoff eligible by defeating Lincoln, 22-13, at Frank Dutton Field.

"It really struck me during senior night," Keith said. "I try to be reflective, but I think it is natural for coaches to be worried about the next challenge."

Keith also noted that he has learned a lot from David.

"I know for example he is a lot tougher than his old man," Keith said. "He does some teenage boy stuff that drives me crazy, but I am blessed to have such a great young man for a son."

For Keith to be able to coach another child, he would have to stay at the Bulldogs' head coach for at least three more years when Steve becomes a junior.

As far as that happening, Keith is not sure.

"I take coaching one year at a time," he said.

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