Eye of the Tiger

A family affair

When Roseville High School hired Dana Duncan this fall as the the varsity tennis coach, she became the latest varsity coach that has had the the opportunity to coach their child. Throughout the past decade, there has been several examples of this at RHS. From Hank DeMello coaching his son in baseball, to Josh Errecart coaching his daughter in varsity basketball, many parents have taken advantage of the opportunity to coach their own children in high school sports.

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A family affair

(FILE PHOTO/GEORGE HUGHES)

(FILE PHOTO/GEORGE HUGHES)

(FILE PHOTO/GEORGE HUGHES)

(FILE PHOTO/GEORGE HUGHES)

ELENA BATEMAN

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Strengthening the bond

By coaching their own children, the coaches are given an opportunity to enhance their relationship with them. After coaching his son Zac Cunha for two years, varsity football coach Larry Cunha believes that while coaching his own child created small issues, it allowed himself and his son to view things from a different perspective , and was helpful for both him and his son.

“There were a few tough times-understanding exactly where being the coach ended and being dad began and vice versa,” Larry said. “But, I think it allowed both of us to see up close what the other was going through and what we each had to do to support the team and each other.”

Hank DeMello, varsity baseball coach from 2008 until 2014, also coached his son, Toby DeMello, and agreed with Cunha in thinking that while at times it was difficult to manage their relationship, the opportunity to coach his own son forced the two to get closer and communicate more often.

“We always had a close relationship and he understood that when we were on the field I was his coach, not his dad,” Hank said. “We would talk strategy so I think that brought us closer since there was a lot more communication.”

Varsity girls basketball coach, Josh Errecart, feels that the time that he has spent coaching his daughter, Kaitlyn Errecart, has added another dimension to their already strong relationship.

“It provides a different part of our relationship. We’ve got our father daughter relationship,a teacher student relationship, and now this whole other relationship,” Josh said. “It’s kind of like having a hobby with your child and it provides a really cool opportunity to build a stronger relationship.”

Creating conflict

While Josh relishes in the benefits of being able to coach his daughter, at times it has caused some additional questions from family members due to like playing time.

“At times my wife or other family members didn’t exactly understand why Kaitlyn wasn’t playing, but with Kaitlyn it didn’t really create big problems because she understood,” Josh said. “It was different for my wife, because she only had a parent perspective when it came to decisions and playing time.”

Kaitlyn also felt that some problems arose from their relationship because of the extra pressure she felt to be more committed than everybody else.

(BRIAN NUEVO/EYE OF THE TIGER)

“Having him as a coach definitely puts a lot more pressure on me to do better,” Kaitlyn said. “It also challenges me to try my hardest, and to be more committed than anyone else is.”

Similarly, Kenzie Duncan, Dana Duncan’s daughter and member of the varsity tennis team, feels that some problems arise on the court because of the relationship her and her mom share.

“There’s a couple times where it’s a little bit strenuous having her as my coach, just because she’s my mom,” Kenzie said. “I’m a bit more intrigued to argue just because I’m her daughter, but it hasn’t cause any major problems.”

Fighting public perception

Obviously, coaching your child can difficult for the parents, as they have to make sure to not look bias towards their kid. Because of the potential ability to be more favorable towards their children in terms of playing time, coaches handled this problem in different ways. For boys basketball varsity coach Greg Granucci, it was often difficult to manage playing time in his son, Sean, junior year, yet managed to give a fair amount of playtime.

“[In Sean’s senior year], he made my job really easy, and it was obvious why he should be on the court,” Granucci said. “ But when he was a junior, it was a bit more of a challenge because he wasn’t the best player, but he also wasn’t the worst player, he was kind of in between.Sometimes it may have looked from the outside that I was playing him because there was a bias, but there was never a bias.”

While Greg found it difficult to appropriate play time, Josh Errecart on the other hand, feels that while managing playing time creates problems, he never finds himself being more favorable to his own daughter, he is instead harder on her than other players.

“I’m definitely not easier on her or allow more privileges, I think I’m more difficult on her,” Josh said. “It presents some problems for me, but I think we’ve done a great job with it over the years.”

Like Errecart, Larry Cunha made his son work for his playing time. After not pulling Zac up his sophomore year, Larry made did not select him as the starting quaterback his junior year, and made him fight for his job all the way through his senior year.

“He [was not] treated differently or better,” Larry said. “In fact he may have been treated slightly worse than the rest of the team to ensure that there was absolutely no favoritism on the field. He had to earn his opportunities from a freshman where he was not the initial starter through to his senior year.”

For Hank DeMello, after pulling up his son his freshman year to varsity baseball, many people were specifically scrutinizing towards Toby, and often looking for him to mistakes to prove there was a bias and didn’t deserve to be pulled up. For Hank, there was never a bias, as he felt that his son was the only catcher capable of giving the team what it needed from a catcher, both offensively and defensively

“It was hard because since I pulled in up, people were looking at any mistake he made to turn it back around on me,” Hank said. “I didn’t really want to bring him up, but the only reason I did, was because he was the only catcher that could effectively do everything we needed a catcher to do.”

Pathway to success

In at least 3 instances, the parent coach and player connection, resulted in post high school sports opportunities, both collegially and professionally.

This year, Sean Granucci graduated from RHS, and has continued to play basketball for the Cosumnes River College Hawkeyes.

In 2008, Toby DeMello graduated from Roseville, and received a baseball scholarship to Saint Mary’s College, and as a senior, was a semifinalist for the Johnny Bench award given to the nation’s

(COURTESY/MINOT STATE)

best catcher. After playing for 4 years, Toby spent five years in the Mariners organization reaching as high as the triple-A level only committing 3 errors. He then became a volunteer coach for Sierra College, and just recently, became one of the assistant coaches at Occidental College.

While being coached by his dad in high school, Toby experienced hostility from others due to being pulled up to varsity as a freshman, despite. Hank believes that while he doesn’t believe coaching his son made him better, it made him stronger and more prepared for the challenges he would encounter in college.

Zac Cunha graduated 5 years ago, and received a scholarship to Minot State University. He started as a true freshman, and was the starter his sophomore and junior seasons. Unfortunatly, he had two early season ending injuries, after breaking his collarbone and experiencing a torn ACL and MCL. He holds the Minot State football record for passing yards and completions, and is second on the all time list for Touchdowns with a year left to play.

 

 

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