Bye week gives UA coaches needed family time
OCT 12, 2012 12:43p ET
Arizona football coach Rich Rodriguez was playing catch and giving instruction to his son, Rhett, a middle school student in Tucson. There Rodriguez was, hiking the ball to his son, offering drop and throwing-motion instructions to a son who has seen and been to more college games than most kids his age. Heck, anyone’s age.
Cover 3, nickel packages and slant routes are all part of growing up. It’s the life of a coach’s son.
The minutes Rodriguez spends after practice playing center to a son are days and moments dads live for and the moments that are sometimes rare when you’re a coach -- at any level. Dad’s office is the playground, and he’s seemingly always there.
"If I have 15 minutes with my kids, they are like golden," said Rodriguez, whose wife, Rita, his daughter, Raquel, and Rhett are often in attendance at practice and games.
Different days offer different moments. This weekend -- as Arizona enjoys its bye week -- will offer more time for father and son to give and take football instruction and football watching free of worry about the Wildcats' outcome.
"Because we are so busy, the 15-20 minutes we have (together after practice) to me are precious,” Rodriguez said.
So what’s cooler than having your dad as one of the top Division I coaches in the country? Well, getting instruction from him.
"You don’t get to coach them as much as you’d like, so when he’s playing for other people you just have to trust the other coaches," Rodriguez said.
Trust and get out of the way. The last thing Rodriguez wants to be is a “helicopter dad,” hovering around and either second-guessing or just making others nervous.
"I tell our guys I wouldn’t coach them any different than I’d coach my own son," Rodriguez said.
Robert Anae wouldn’t either. His son, Max, is a junior offensive lineman/linebacker at Canyon del Oro High School. First and foremost, the coach says, he’s a father. His son is a player because “that’s the path he has chosen."
"Whether it’s on the field or in the classroom or wherever," Anae said, "is what (time) you invest in developing your children.”
Is there pressure in being the son of a coach who has ties to a big-time school? Sure. It comes with the territory. He would know. He was the son of a coach, too.
"There are expectations with his peers and his coaches, but from the home front, we have not designed our parental relationship that way," Anae said. "I grew up in the home of a head high school coach, so that’s been part of our family deal. As much as possible, I encourage athletics and when playing just to give your best effort. It’s about doing the best."
And having fun. Arizona defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel said it’s fun for him to go see his son, Jake, play for Salpointe Catholic.
"It’s fun to watch him progress," Casteel said.
Jake plays for the Lancers, who are 7-1 so far this season with Casteel being a newcomer to the program following the family's move from West Virginia earlier this year.
"They’ve done a good job of handling things," Casteel said of Jake and his daughter, Sarah, a cheerleader at Salpointe. "I’m proud of the way they’ve adjusted to things here. The people at Salpointe have done a good job."
And that’s both on and off the field. On the field, Casteel is just a proud dad, fan and observer.
"Those guys coach my son; I don’t try to get into it," Casteel said. "I just go watch as a dad. They have great coaches. It’s a lot of fun to go watch when he makes a few plays. The team is having some success.
"I leave that (coaching) alone. They are in bed when I come home. I don’t have a chance (to talk about that), but even if I would come home (early), I don’t think I’d talk about those things."