Sept. 17, 2012
Story by Alexx Klein
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Raising a family has enough challenges in itself. Add to that coaching a Division I basketball program and you have got yourself a plateful. Indiana welcomed in Chris Day as associate head coach of the women's basketball team this year. Day spent seven seasons as an assistant coach for the women's basketball program at Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia prior to his arrival in Bloomington. Day helped lead the Hawks to a 128-94 record in his time at St. Joe's, including three consecutive postseason appearances (2010-2012).
"I don't regret leaving St. Joe's at all. It was time for a change. The move has been tough for the family more than me," Day said.
According to Day, his wife Megan and his children Christian (13), Olivia (9), Morgan (5) and Cassidy (2), are adjusting fairly well to their new home in Bloomington.
"When I told my nine year old I was taking the Indiana job that Coach Miller graciously offered to me, she bawled her eyes out for five minutes. It was difficult for her leaving all her friends, but so far she's been great," Day said.
Christian plays football, baseball, and basketball, Olivia runs track and dances, and Morgan dances as well.
"My two-year old just causes problems for the world," Day joked. "That's just the age she is at."
From the beginning of his collegiate career, Day says he has always been juggling different projects.
"I attended Westchester University, which is a Division II school right outside of Philadelphia, and I became an AAU head coach the spring of my freshman year," Day said. "I had to balance spring football practice, outdoor track practice and running an AAU team of 13 year olds. I had to find gym time and do the fundraising, so I was quite busy at 18. That's how it all started."
Married with four young children, Day faces the daily struggle of balancing his coaching career with family life.
"Balancing work and family is tough. I am a parent that's involved so it's very difficult for me," Day said. "The only way I can make it work is if my two bosses are on the same page and understand what I'm trying to do. My bosses are obviously Coach Miller, but also my wife."
Head Coach Curt Miller has two teenage sons, both seniors in high school at Bloomington South and 17 years old.
"I do not want work to ever define me, or success on the court to ever define me," Miller said. "I take much more pride in raising Brian and Shawn and having a positive influence in their lives and being a part of their lives."
Patrick Henry, the team's new video coordinator, has an eight-month-old daughter. To him, having somebody that understands the demands of having a family is crucial.
"Our job is to be successful here and to graduate kids, but it's also to develop our own kids at home. Having somebody that understands that and has kids of his own is really helpful," Henry said.
"I think there is a give and take in order to be successful both at work and at home," Miller said. "You have a family that understands your job and respects the hard work that goes into being a collegiate coach, but at the same time, you have to make sacrifices at times to get out of work to be with your family at events."
The challenges don't seem to fade, but all three men seem to make it work.
"My wife and I have been married for almost four years now and time demands and travel have always been our biggest challenge, especially being on the road," Henry said.
Day added that his wife makes sure she is available as much as possible to bring his kids out to games.
"Out of all of the home games at St. Joe's, she didn't miss many, less than five for sure. Away games were a little more difficult. They made most of the drivable ones though," Day said.
Miller's trick to keeping his family close? Eating together.
"I truly believe it is important to be around the dinner table every single night as much as possible with the boys. Even if that means coming immediately back to work in the late evening or after dinner knowing that you have to disappear for a few hours to watch game film or be on the phone with recruits," he said. "We have made it a priority to try to eat as many dinners together around the dinner table as possible."
One of the hardest things for Day is not seeing his children as much as he wants.
"My two-year old said, `Am I going to see daddy when the sun comes up?' You would think, oh my two-year-old doesn't know what's going on, but she does and that's tough," he said. "If I couldn't do the little things like drop my daughter off at preschool or take my son to football practice, I wouldn't be anywhere. I just couldn't do it."
As tough as it is for Miller, Day and Henry to be away from their families, they do it for a reason.
"I'm passionate about coaching. I love it," Day said. "I treat these student-athletes like they are my daughters, so tough love is definitely there."
Day also took pride in the fact that the coaches are all real. "This is what you're going to get. We can separate how we have to be tough on the court with just hanging out off the court," he said.
The main value that Day hopes to instill in his children is work ethic.
"I really want my kids to have drive. I am still trying to instill that more in my son, but my wife and I are trying. Honesty plays a role as well. That's how you get to the point where all of us are today," he said.
"Having kids gives you a different perspective on how you approach kids that you coach. You're a little bit more understanding of things and you see things through another kid's eyes," Henry said. "Even though these women are 17-22 year olds you still view them as your own children and want them to succeed."