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More Than a Dad How three coaches balance fatherhood and coaching.

Father’s Day is set aside to honor the dads in our lives. In many cases, “dads” are more than just fathers — they are our chauffers, our biggest fans, our role models. And in these three special cases, Samuel, Monica, Jorge, Emily, and Joshua’s dads also happen to be field hockey coaches.

For Father’s Day, the National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) asked these three dad-coaches how they balance parenting with their career in sport and asked their kids what it’s like to have a field hockey coach for a dad.

Michael Warari, head coach at Vassar College, and his son Samuel, age 3.

Michael and Samuel

Michael, what's your favorite way to allow your son to enjoy your job?

I like to involve Samuel whenever I can. When I am watching film or hockey highlights, he likes to watch with me. At halftime during games, I like to go and give him a hug, as he is always cheering us on. We live right next to the field so Samuel is often hanging around during clinics and even practice sometimes. It's a joy to be able to have Samuel be such a big part of my life as a coach. At the end of the day, I just want him to know that he is the most important thing in my life!

Samuel, what's your favorite thing about having a field hockey coach for a dad?

Playing with Daddy. That's my favorite game.

Lucas Piccioli, associate head coach at the University of Louisville, and his children, Monica, 10, and Jorge, 6.

Lucas, Monica, and Jorge

Lucas, how do you balance being a dad and a coach?

I think there two pieces to this, first is the fact that I have the best, most supportive wife anyone could ask for. In many cases family activities are planned around my schedule so my time with the kids is maximized. The second part is my head coach, the fact that she understands the value of family time and is pretty lenient when it comes to family, makes it for a best-case scenario when it comes to balancing parenting and coaching.

Lastly, my kids are very much involved with the team and the school so they are around a lot even while I am at work, every minute with them counts, so I cannot complain.

Monica and Jorge, what is your favorite thing about having a field hockey coach for a dad?

Monica: I like having my dad as a coach, because I also get a personal coach that pushes me to do my best on and off the field.

Jorge: He helps me learn some more skills and different ways to shoot!

Cory Ward, head coach at Gordon College, and his children, Emily, 18, and Joshua, 20.

Cory, Emily, and Joshua

Cory, how do you balance coaching and parenting?

It is my goal with my team and my kids to instill a love of the game by first instilling a love for them. I’ve always wanted my kids to love field hockey, so I never forced it on them. They saw my passion for the game and decided to give it a try on their own. My oldest son and daughter both had the opportunity to play in high school and my daughter will be joining me this fall at Gordon. So it’s safe to say they’ve come to love the game as much as I do.

When they were playing, I didn’t want to be the parent who always yelled instructions during the game and pointed out everything my kid could do better after the game. I told my children, if they wanted feedback they could ask. This allowed me to be their parent and supporter first and foremost, and their coach second. After they cooled down, we always had constructive conversations about their games.

We also had a lot of fun — they started coming to my camp very early and just loved being around my team.

Emily, what's your favorite field hockey memory with your dad?

Some of my favorite memories with my Dad are traveling to field hockey tournaments together. I love having the chance to bond over the sport that we both love. Having someone there to always encourage and push me beyond what I think I can do means the world to me and has helped me become a better player. Going to these tournaments provides the opportunity to watch some of the best players alongside my Dad who teaches me how to emulate the skills that we are watching so that I can improve my game. I am so thankful for everything that he has done and continues to do for me.

Whether you are celebrating this Father’s Day with your dad, his memory, or an especially influential person in your life, the NFHCA is wishing you a “Happy Father’s Day!”

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