Dads Who Coach
● By Kerri Regan
Happy Fathers PlayJune 2015
By Kerri Regan
When listing the most influential people in their lives, many people who have ever played sports will include someone they once called "Coach." A lucky few are also able to call that person "Dad."
These youngsters on baseball diamonds, soccer fields, gridirons and basketball courts throughout the North State have extra thanks to bestow upon these coaches as Father’s Day approaches.
But for these guys, the opportunity to have a strong, positive influence on their children’s lives is a gift in itself.
Charley Hawkins has coached his three daughters in softball – Natasha graduated from San Jose State University on a full-ride athletic scholarship, Cheridan (also on scholarship) is making a national name for herself at the University of Oregon, and Charli is an eighth-grader at Pacheco. He also coached niece Chelsey, who earned a scholarship to the University of California at Riverside.
“I just wanted to be involved with my kids,” says Hawkins, an Anderson High School alum whose kids also attended Anderson. “Once you have kids and they get to the age where
you can start doing stuff with them, your life stops and you start working through your kids, to get them going in the direction they need to be going.”
He thrives on seeing his girls overcome adversity. “When things are tough, I want to see how they’re going to react to it,” he says. “It’s pretty rewarding when they fight their way through it and get over it and move on. Seeing kids grow and get better is awesome.”
Now that he’s no longer Cheridan’s official coach, he gets so nervous that he can’t stand still when he and wife Natalie go watch the left-handed pitcher’s games at the University of Oregon. “I probably put on 20 miles at those games,” says Hawkins, a part-time UPS employee who owns a painting company. “I’ve got like seven different places I watch the game from, my good luck spots – if she’s striking ’em out, I stay there. If not, I’m moving.”
Another guy who spends a lot of time on the diamond is Kacy McClung, who coaches Chase (12), Ava (9) and Nate (7) in soccer, baseball and basketball. There’s not a month of the year that the kindergarten teacher doesn’t coach something.
“I love coaching my kids,” McClung says. “I might push a little hard and I have super high expectations for my kids. To me, they should know the rules and exactly what’s going on because we talk about it and think about it all the time. It’s hard to see them fail in certain ways, but I’m not afraid to put them in that situation – that’s what helped me growing up.”
Wife Kim is “the calendar keeper, the team mom for every single thing we do, the person who gets them there, the one to tell me where I need to be – if she doesn’t keep it organized, I’m done,” he says. As the couple watches Chase and Nate play wiffle ball in the yard, McClung says, “I love the smiles on their faces. We love watching them play.”
Though he’s tickled by little ones’ dreams of wearing a Major League Baseball jersey, he aims to instill the sheer joy of playing. “The odds of anyone playing Division 1 are almost nil in Redding,” says McClung, a Redding native and Shasta High School graduate. “They’ve got to enjoy it. It’s about gaining life experience and loving the moment. It’s a big stepping stone to life.”
Greg Wilkes coached varsity football while working as a police officer in San Jose, and now coaches sons Zach (11), Kyle (9) and Nicholas (7) in flag football. He also helps with baseball and basketball.
“It’s a way to spend time with the kids in a positive way, and to instill in them a good work ethic and teamwork,” says Wilkes, who played football at San Francisco State University. “I want to be involved in their development. You can’t put a price on seeing them learn and get better.”
Time at the field is family time for Wilkes and his wife, Kim, and the teams become extended family. “Being at the ballpark is date night for us,” he says with a laugh.
Wilkes says he’s toughest on his own kids and it’s a challenge to maintain a boundary between coaching and parenting. “There’s a line between teaching, coaching and being a parent,” he says. “I’m passionate about developing these athletes. Sports kept me in school and helped me focus. I’ve coached hundreds of kids, and you hope it’s had a positive influence and created good memories.”
Hawkins agrees, and the efforts have paid off for his daughters and niece. “At the end of the day, I have a tough exterior, but I love these kids a lot,” he says.
And when McClung’s children grow up and talk about their favorite coach one day, he says, “I hope they tell their kids that we had lots of fun.”