We don't think of coaches as having families, or as having the kinds of emotional problems that plague the rest of us. We think of them only on the bench, or on the sideline with their teams. We conveniently forget the attachments they have as people. Gene Keady, a man who is much like Gibbs in his intense approach to his coaching, seems to be wrestling with the same conflict between his personal life and his professional life.
Last week the Purdue basketball coach was staggered by two personal tragedies: First, his daughter had to undergo brain surgery after falling in her New Jersey home and lapsing into a coma. Then he learned that his father had died after a long illness.
Keady left the Purdue team and flew to his daughter's side for the operation. Two days later he left her with her mother in the hospital, and flew to Minneapolis to coach Purdue against Minnesota. The next day Keady flew to Sacramento for his father's funeral, then flew back to campus to coach Purdue against Indiana. Wednesday, Keady returned to New Jersey to be with his wife and daughter, who remains in a coma. "I think we all learn that family is what counts, not basketball," Keady said. He coached, he said, because he thought his father and daughter would have wanted him to.
We ask our coaches to be leaders. But we never specify the way to do it, other than by winning games.
We assume somehow they'll know.