It#039;s hard to be a coach and a father

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Sam Wilson is like most dads in the Greenville area. He wears many hats.

He wears his work hat, which is for the local ALFA insurance agency. Then he wears the hat of a husband and father.

He also wears the hat as coach of a ponytail softball team

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in the spring and a youth girls basketball team

in the winter.

For the last four years Wilson has been coaching his daughter Katie

in basketball and the last three in softball.

"I've enjoyed it, but it's been stressful at the same time," he said.

Like most fathers who have coached their son or daughter, Sam Wilson has always been harder on his daughter.

"Just like a fellow told me a few years ago, you have to decide what kind of coach you are going to be to your child. You are going to be hard or easy on them," he said. "I always try to be harder on her. And I explain to her that I have to be harder on her so the others will listen."

Wilson also knows what it is to be held under a microscope.

He always feels the stress of trying not to show any special treatment toward his child. In fact Wilson said he tries to be harder on his daughter than anyone else on the team.

And Wilson said that the hat of coach and father never are one in the same during a game.

Wilson's daughter scored the game-winning run on Thursday to lift the Greenville All-Stars over Andalusia during the first round of the sub-district tournament

in Luverne. There was no special high five or a kiss on the forehead waiting for Katie when she crossed the plate.

She got her congratulations and the game continued.

"I try to keep on an even keel," Sam Wilson said. "After the game, when we got home, I sat down with her and bragged on her for a while to make sure she knew how proud of her that I really was."

But don't get Wilson or any other coach of their son or daughter wrong. In the sports arena, dad may seem like the worst dad on the face of the earth toward their child. But when that coaching hat comes off, Wilson and other fathers are just as proud of their child.

If Wilson didn't have a child, would he be coaching youth basketball or baseball?

He said he probably wouldn't.

"If I weren't coaching, I'd probably be out in the yard cutting the grass," he said. "And she'd be inside watching TV or playing a video game."

But he also knows by being involved in what his daughter does, brings the two of them closer.

"It is something that I will never forget," he said. "And I hope it's something she doesn't forget, either."

After four years of coaching his daughter's basketball and softball teams, Sam Wilson said he's going to hang up the coaching whistle for a while.

"I've coached her for all but her first year of softball," he said. "It may be time for her to take a break from me next year."

That's easier said than done.

"I'm sure I'm going to sit back and second-guess what her coach decides just like some moms and dads do with me," he said.

But it's time for a break for both.

So next year Wilson will just be trading a hat for another.

Welcome to the other side of the fence, Sam. There's always room for another proud papa.

Kevin Taylor is sports editor of The Greenville Advocate. You can contact him via e-mail at or call (334) 383-9302 ext. 122.