Father figures: These coaches train greater than expertise; they function function fashions for his or her gamers


Fathering is available in all types. For a lot of dads, it means getting concerned with their youngsters’s sports activities actions.

However for fathers who go even additional and grow to be coaches, they’re impacting greater than their youngsters’s lives. They’re serving as father figures, as function fashions, for teams of youngsters.

Meet native dads who’re impacting the lives via their dedication, mentoring and training contributions.

‘Greater than me’

Wealthy Eboli, 50, of Penn Township was raised in a single-parent family.

“I grew up with a single mother and didn’t have a lot contact with my father. Two of my greatest associates’ fathers have been like surrogate dads to me,” mentioned Eboli, a well being and security supervisor for Philips.

Eboli has two hockey-playing sons — Anthony, 11, and Domenic, 14 — and volunteers teaching for 4 groups, two with Penn-Trafford inline hockey and two with the Metal Metropolis Shockwave journey group.

Teaching year-round for greater than eight years, Eboli mentioned the hockey world is a close-knit crowd, with households working collectively to offer the perfect sports activities expertise for the gamers.

“Hockey has nearly its personal fraternity of households that perceive the monetary restraints, lengthy hours, and everybody helps one another,” mentioned Eboli, including that he performed each sport however hockey as a teenager.


Rob Amen | Tribune-Assessment

Wealthy Eboli, 50, of Penn Township, provides last directions to the Metal Metropolis Shockwave 10U journey inline hockey staff earlier than the semifinals of the Western Pennsylvania Inline Hockey League on June 12 at Murrysville SportZone Area. Eboli served because the coach of the 10U staff and assisted on the Shockwave 14U staff this spring.


Eboli serves as president of the Penn-Trafford inline group.

He mentioned balancing the dad vs. coach function has been tough at occasions.

“You wanna be a coach and deal with all people truthful,” he mentioned. “It took me just a few years of teaching — good occasions and unhealthy occasions — to know that each child on that staff deserves sufficient consideration as a lot as my children. It’s a tough job at occasions as a result of it’s important to separate being a coach and a dad.”

Eboli’s teaching expertise didn’t go unnoticed by one in every of his elementary gamers.

Franklin Regional elementary pupil Jordan Azzarello, who performs for Penn-Trafford, penned an imaginary award in Eboli’s honor for a faculty mission.

In his project, Jordan was tasked with giving an award to somebody they admire.

Jordan wrote about how Eboli taught him that “teamwork makes the dream work,” and he described Eboli as “good … and good at hockey.”

“His mother despatched his work to me, and I nonetheless have it on my desk,” Eboli mentioned. “It jogs my memory that that is at all times greater than me.”

Tougher by yourself

Like many coaches do, Denny Little went to sit down on a softball bucket throughout a scrimmage. Simply as he leaned again to plant himself and put full belief within the pail, somebody plucked it away. The coach went crashing to the bottom in a dugout at a Plum municipal discipline two seasons in the past.

The individual behind the hijinks was Emma Little, Denny’s cheeky daughter, then a sophomore on the Penn-Trafford softball staff coached by her dad.

She thought it was humorous. He didn’t.

“I despatched her to a different discipline and she or he ran, by herself, for about 4 innings,” Little mentioned. “I needed the opposite ladies to see that, to ship all of them a message. At the moment, I used to be her coach, not her dad.”

The coach’s message was acquired, loud and clear. He and Emma later laughed about it.

“I could have coached my daughters, however they have been at all times simply one other child on the staff,” Little mentioned. “In case you noticed me speaking to No. 6, you wouldn’t know she was my daughter.”

His prime assistant, Mike Cleland, was the identical means when he coached his daughter, Brooke, who simply accomplished her freshman season at Seton Hill.

The Griffins made it to the NCAA Division II World Sequence for the primary time.

Brooke Cleland was a power-hitting outfielder at Penn-Trafford and has stayed in character at Seton Hill.

“You form of undertake all the children as your personal,” Mike Cleland mentioned. “You’re not teaching your daughter; you’re teaching all of them.

Little’s daughters, Megan and Emma, each performed softball after faculty, Megan at IUP and Emma at Bloomsburg, the place she will probably be a sophomore.

Discovering time to be dads and discovering time to be coaches have been as soon as tied collectively. Now their problem is doing each.

Little and Cleland have saved up with their daughters from afar, teaching Penn-Trafford whereas tuning into broadcasts or gamecasts on their telephones.

“We attempt to get to as many video games as we are able to,” Cleland mentioned.

“I do know our wives need us to be at extra video games,” Little mentioned. “However we get pleasure from this. We love being across the ladies and educating them the sport.”

Cleland was on an airplane to Denver the day after a Penn-Trafford sport to look at Seton Hill play within the World Sequence.

Throughout a sport earlier this season, Little was checking updates on the PSAC Event from his cellphone in between innings of a Penn-Trafford sport.

He mentioned being a father, coach and coach-father will not be powerful as a result of it’s his ardour.

“There was at all times that gnawing feeling of wanting my daughter to succeed to show to the daddy-ball nay-sayers she belonged,” Little mentioned. “I’d say they each handed that check with flying colours. I believe it was more durable for my children.”

Teaching the 2nd technology

Veteran Freeport ladies volleyball coach Tom Phillips is a father to 2 grownup sons who additionally grew to become concerned with the game as gamers and coaches.

He doesn’t have a daughter of his personal, however he mentioned he appears on the lots of of gamers he has mentored over the practically twenty years with the Yellowjackets as his personal and works on daily basis to foster that feeling of household inside his program.

“You realize you might be getting older when you’ve got ladies who’ve gone via your program, and rapidly their ladies are coming via this system,” mentioned Phillips.

“However it’s only a nice feeling to maintain involved and share within the lives of all the ladies who’ve performed for me and who’ve made so many nice moments. They’re like household to me for all times.”

That target a household facet has united his ladies groups at Freeport to a run of 17 consecutive part championships, six WPIAL titles since 2010 and the 2017 Class 2A state championship.

The Yellowjackets captured the WPIAL Class 3A title in 2021 and made it to the state semifinals.

Just one senior graduated, and with a number of gifted newcomers, pleasure is excessive for the staff getting into the upcoming season.

“Coach Phillips desires to be there for us, each on and off the courtroom, to assist us with something we want,” Freeport rising senior and 2021 WPIAL Class 3A all-star Cassidy Dell mentioned. “He focuses on having that household facet to our staff, which is wonderful.”

For years, Phillips and his spouse, Jamie, have hosted volleyball matches and tournaments on sand courts at their dwelling nestled within the woods a few miles from Freeport Excessive Faculty.

“We simply get collectively and play volleyball with no stress,” Dell mentioned. “We will hang around and have some enjoyable earlier than the true season truly begins. It’s a lot enjoyable to be there and be with my teammates. That’s what a staff and household is all about.”


Supply hyperlink