Family games

When parent and child are also coach and player

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Remi Williams

For three teams on campus, it’s a family affair as there is a coach with a child on the team, including golf’s Adam and Raleigh Davidson, baseball’s Cade and Scott McGarrh, and tennis’s Erica and Milla Dopson.

Most teams strive to create a feeling of family both on and off of the field. However, it is easier for some than others. For three pairs of coaches and athletes this comes naturally, as multiple sports across campus have one thing in common: a biological connection.

With three pairs of parent coaches and athletes on campus, the Redhawks have team connections unlike any other.

  • Cade (junior) and Scott (baseball head coach) McGarrh
  • Milla (sophomore) and Erica (tennis head coach) Dopson
  • Raleigh (senior) and Adam (golf assistant coach) Davidson

For junior Cade McGarrh, playing for his dad is a chance to spend more time with the person he considers his best friend.

Junior Cade McGarrh and head baseball coach Scott McGarrh get to share their best friend father/son relationship on and off the field. Although they both enjoy their time together, the knowledge that it can be difficult. (Provided by McGarrh family)

“Off the field, my dad is like my best friend,” Cade McGarrh said via text. “I have and will always continue to look up to him. He sets such a great example as my role model. On the field he expects a lot but it has never had a negative affect on our relationship. Once we step off the field, he’s my dad, my role model.”

However, when it comes to a parent coaching their child, there can be talk of favoritism. 

“It hasn’t always been easy,” Scott McGarrh said via email. “There have been whispers. My family hears it in the stands. People make sure they say it so I can hear it.”

But while some people believe the situation of a parent coaching their child can be unfair to other athletes, coach McGarrh sees it differently.

“I actually think it is more difficult for him,” he said. “He is held to a much higher standard, higher than just a student/athlete.”

Although he is held to a higher standard as the example for other players, Cade believes the only extra help he receives is through goal setting.

“I feel like the only advantages come from off the field,” Cade said. “He knows my overall goals and knowing that, he helps me achieve those goals by setting high standards. He pushed me to be the best I can be.”

The situation also comes with many other benefits as having someone to experience the ups and downs with can be rewarding.

“Getting to share the highs and lows of the game we both love together is truly the best part,” Scott said. “Getting to see his face after we win, hugging his neck after we get beat. Watching him grow and become such a great leader.”

The same benefits are felt on the tennis court between sophomore Milla Dopson and head tennis coach Erica Dopson.

Players believe Milla Dopson and her mom, head coach Erica Dopson, add the extra family element to the Tennis team. While coach Dopson tries to find the balance and leave the coaching on the court. (Provided by Dopson family)

“It’s a very unique experience I would say,” Milla said via text. “There’s some good times and some challenging times but overall I’m very happy that I get to see my mom everyday.”

While some people may feel daughter Milla Dopson has an added advantage, teammate sophomore Morgan Mowery believes that having this tie on the team brings the Redhawks tennis program closer together.

“I think that having her on the team makes it more fun and makes the team feel more like family,” Mowery said via text. “None of us are strangers to each other and having that extra bond really ties us closer.”

Even though the extra time together feels like a reward, it can be tough at times when communication becomes a dubious task.

“It has been both rewarding and challenging,” Erica said via email. “I make a conscious effort to treat her as I would any player on my team. I am harder on her than the other players, so I try to keep myself in check and leave any coaching conversations at school, but I would prefer to just be her parent.”

Out on the golf course, coach Adam Davidson and daughter, senior Raleigh Davidson, enjoy the extra time with one another, using it to their full advantage.

After four years of golfing together, Raeleigh Davidson and father Adam Davidson seen their last year being coach and athlete together. Adam finds spending his days on the golf course with his daughter to a precious commodity. (Provided by Davidson family)

“Both [of my daughters] had to work harder than ever because I let them know early on that their effort and performance had to be obvious to everyone to eliminate any scrutiny of being a ‘coaches kid’,” Adam Davidson said via email.

Raleigh puts that all aside and chooses to go out and try her best at every game, with her father at her side both living through the experience together.

“I just go out and play the best golf I can and let that determine everything,” she said via text. “My favorite part would be him actually being there to experience it instead of me having to tell him about my tournaments and practices after the fact.”

Most parents relish in the joy they get watching their child play the sport they love, however these three parents get to experience it first hand, an opportunity some only dream of.

“Time is the most precious commodity in our lives, once it’s gone you can’t get it back,” Adam Davidson said. “I’ve never heard anyone on their deathbed wishing they had worked another hour, or day, or earned another dollar, or purchased additional items. They reflect on the time they spent with their loved ones. They wish they had more time.”