Life’s a Game for Leland Dads

by Jun 15, 2017Brunswick County Life, North Brunswick, People

Being a sports coach means teaching crucial skills to the players on your team. But for dads who coach their kids, the lessons are mutual. With Father’s Day just around the corner, we spoke with three local dads who say they learn just as much, if not more, from their young players. These devoted dads take time out of their busy schedules to coach youth sports, giving their all to the process and gaining so much in return.

Daryl Trexler

Trexler - Leland dads who coachDaryl Trexler is a longtime resident of Leland and a Minister for the North Carolina Baptist Foundation. Trexler has been coaching his kids, ages ten and twelve, since 2009. As a former baseball player, Trexler says it felt natural for him to coach his son in baseball. But when he got “thrown into the soccer world” with his daughter, it was a learning curve. “I didn’t know much about soccer, so I got on Youtube and talked to some guys at my church, and I’ve done it ever since.”

Why do you coach?

“I do it mostly to be involved with my kids and to help out the community kids. I was a youth minister for many years. One of the most valuable assets of a community is the kids – they’re so much fun to be around. And as a coach, I can have so much influence and impact on them. To have the privilege of doing that, to be invited into the space with them – that is almost holy ground. When you can combine the community aspect with helping kids and getting to spend time with your own, it’s a win-win-win. I wouldn’t give it up for anything in the world.”

Trexler - Leland dads who coachHow do you make time for it?

“I do a lot of day travel, but I’m able to be here at night. The other piece I love about coaching is you don’t do it alone. I can always call on someone to help. But often I can fit it into my schedule and make it a priority. We still live in a community at least where people get it and they understand that family and kids are important, too. Luckily I’ve had flexible jobs that allow me to do that. I work a lot of hours, but can shave some things out; I think we all can do that. One of the things that I don’t ever want is to look back ten years from now and say: I missed all this. There’s time for all of it and you want to make time for kids.”

Trexler - Leland dads who coachWhat does coaching mean to you?

“I’ve developed so many relationships out of the coaching world that go beyond Saturday morning or Friday night games. I’ve become part of that whole world. And you see other parents [shaping] your kids as well. To be around your kids and to be active – it’s such a pure thing. There are a lot of life lessons you learn about yourself and your kids and other kids and each other. Stuff comes up, like how you treat one another. Many times when you get a little emotionally involved the kids remind us it’s not all about the win. It’s important for kids and adults to learn to lose; those are important life lessons. You learn so much from these kids, about what [matters]; it’s not always success, it’s not always the win – it’s about improving, as coaches. Kids can put a spin on life sometimes and you recognize that we [as adults] take things too seriously.”

Sytke Bryant

Bryant - Leland dads who coachSytke Bryant, of Leland, is a father of two boys, ages nine and eleven. During the day, Bryant works at UniFirst Uniforms. In the evenings, he heads to the field (or stadium or court, depending on the season), to serve as head coach for his children’s sports teams. Bryant has been coaching for seven years, ever since his oldest started wee-ball and flag football. These days, he coaches all year round in baseball, football, and basketball. “With football I rotate,” Bryant says. “I coached my younger son’s team this year and I’ll coach my older son’s team next year.”

Why do you coach?

“Coaching is always something I wanted to do. When I was younger, I played football, basketball, and track. So I coach out of a love for the sport, but mostly out of love for the kids. It’s not just about the coaching; I have to care for these kids. Some of them don’t have fathers, so after sports they’ll give me a call and I’ll pick them up on the weekend and hang out with them and keep them on the right path. There was a kid I was recently coaching who was struggling with school and I took it upon myself to say, ‘You’re not doing good in school.’ I took the time to help him out with his schoolwork because I wanted to make sure he does well at school before sports.”

Bryant - Leland dads who coachHow do you make time for it?

“It can be a project since I work in Wilmington and coach in Leland, so I have to cross that bridge. But, it just happens. Once I leave work most of the practices start at about 5:30 or 6:00 p.m. so I have to either get dressed while at my job and come straight to the ballpark or go home quick, but I’ve been doing it for so long I’m so used to it. When you gotta work you just get up and go, and it’s same being a coach; if I don’t get there, the kids see that, and they might think their coach doesn’t care as much about what they’re up to. So I make it a priority to get there.”

Bryant - Leland dads who coachWhat does coaching mean to you?

“Once I coach you, you become a part of my family. Developing a relationship with the kids, that’s the most important part. I tell them that I love them. I’m a role model and almost like a father figure to a lot of these kids, that’s what makes me stick around and do it. My own kids [benefit] too… they’re so used to me now and sometimes maybe they don’t want me there, but when I start to say, ‘Hey I don’t think I’m gonna coach this year,’ they start to get upset, so it tells me that they really do enjoy me out there.”

Joey Fowler

Fowler- Leland dads who coachJoey Fowler, also of Leland, is a contractor and father of three kids, ages four, seven, and nine. Fowler has been coaching baseball for the last five years. As a coach for the All-Stars, he says the highlight of his coaching career thus far was when the team won districts last year and went to the World Series in Mississippi.

Why do you coach?

“I got started because my son started T-ball and the league needed help, so I was willing to help. I played a lot of baseball growing up so I felt like I could help the kids out. A lot of kids don’t have help at home and need an experienced coach to help them develop as baseball players with good attitudes. It’s hard work to keep these leagues going. Parents volunteer their time to make sure the kids have coaches. People who have played baseball [in the past], they’re now out coaching little leagues, so it’s kind of a revolving thing. And the main reason I’m out there is because my kids are on the field and I like to spend time with them and be involved as a parent.

Fowler- Leland dads who coachHow do you make time for it?

“To make time you have to sacrifice things that you used to do. It takes several hours on the baseball field with the kids. As a contractor, I do have a little more flexibility than others, but I still have to be on the job and work all day. I can take time off if I need to leave work a little early, but I coach on weekends too and spend some weekends out of town for the travel ball baseball team. It takes a lot of time and sacrifice, and it’s a lot of work and responsibility, but I enjoy helping the kids and watching them grow and develop as baseball players with great attitudes.”

Fowler- Leland dads who coachWhat does coaching mean to you?

“It’s rewarding to watch kids play and my own son has developed into a pretty good baseball player. Of course, you’ve got ups and downs cause you’re gonna lose sometimes and the kids are gonna get upset, but I think that builds character and teaches us that losing is part of life, and you don’t just win at everything. Of course you want to play the game correctly, but the most important thing is having fun and enjoying the game. When you see a kid at the park that you used to coach at T-ball and they remember you and they still call you ‘Coach’ – that’s satisfying.”

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