Tony's Take: Father's Day Is A Special Time For Dads

I don't know many dads out there who wait on accolades signaling they are a good father. Being a dad is one of the most awarding jobs that you can have and if you are a coach like me it often encompasses your extended family. 


The journey of becoming a coach started many years before I knew what was to come as a high schooler. I was fortunate to have some very strong father figures in my corner. Even the suspect ones. As a freshman, I had two coaches that were instrumental to me as father figure roles during my time at Chauncey Rose Junior High School in Terre Haute, Indiana. Mr. Smodilla was my fall physical education teacher and I played football for him. He was a mean dude but a fair one. I always thought I would be an NFL player in the mold of my favorite wide receiver Art Monk of the Washington Redskins. Despite being a talented individual and as good as my teammates, I was relegated to the special teams. Furthermore, Mr. Smodilla stated, "Jones, this sport isn't in your future." Needless to say that my organized football days were soon to be over. 

On the flip side, my spring semester physical education teacher Mr. Brackell was a good friend of Mr. Smodilla but of the opposite mode. Mr. Brackell was the boy's track and field coach. During the middle of the semester, every student in his class was required to participate in the President's Challenge. I ran one of the fastest times ever in his class. The 4:55 time would be one of the best marks in the county according to Mr. Brackell. Although I didn't officially compete for his team, he encouraged me to stay fit and give running a consideration in the future.

The oxymoron effect of both Mr. Smodilla and Mr. Brackell was similar to what a father's love is. On one hand, there is that tough love that you need to survive the sometimes cruelty that society has to offer. And on the other tick, a less stiff backhanded gesture is the soothing calming effect that balances things out. I was able to understand both modalities over time and deal with life lessons in a satisfactory manner.

Now, as time passes by, I had an opportunity to coach and mentor young men and women similar to how I was brought up. In using what my beginning mentors provided me, I was able to overcome some of the pitfalls in dealing with youth. Many times I am a father figure, I genuinely love my student-athletes unconditionally. I want each one to succeed in life and I know that I am right in pushing them to believe in themselves on and off the battlefield. It is my duty that I teach them about the respect of one another and themselves, cogent thinking, building a plan, and executing it. There is no greater feeling as a father to see your child work hard to achieve their goals. Maybe that's why the month of June is a month of sadness and joy for me. I know that once the kids the nest, they will be just fine.

Happy Father's Day!