Matt Tjapkes 2017-09-09 03:47:47
When Joe Nelson returned to Grand Haven after a seven-year stint at Hope College, he did so to be closer to his children going through Grand Haven schools. When he became the head coach last fall, he wanted to make sure there was a family atmosphere around the program for every player that competes for the Bucs. Fortunately, there are plenty of examples right on the field and the sidelines every week, as Nelson and two assistants, Mike Takas and Dennis Striegle, all have sons on the varsity squad this year. Adam Nelson is a captain and starting quarterback for the Buccaneers, while Colin Takas and Caiden Striegle both play two ways as receivers and defensive backs for Grand Haven. For fathers and sons alike, the chance to have actual family on the sidelines has made this year a special one. “The conversation never ends,” Adam Nelson said. “It’s a great conversation, very productive. We always that that trust that I can tell him some things and he can tell me some things. It strengthens the relationship.” For the three Bucs players, the memories of being around dad have already had an impact, both on and off the field. “From a young age, I was in on everything,” Caiden Striegle said. “My dad has been at Spring Lake and Grand Haven, so I’ve seen a variety of different football. You get to hang out with older guys, and I thought that was the coolest.” “I was going to practices when I was 6-7 years old,” Colin Takas added. “ Always being around football, I’ve learned from him a lot of stuff that if you weren’t around the game from the age of 5, you wouldn’t know as much.” For the dads coaching Buccaneers, the opportunity to connect with their sons while coaching a game they love has made this experience special. “Between Adam being a senior and my other son Elijah being a freshman, having them both close to me, it really means the world right now,” Joe Nelson said. “My whole life’s ambitions are about influencing kids in a positive way and growing these kids into respectable men and having them be a part of that training is great.” “We get to enjoy something that we love together, and obviously that enhances our realtionship with one another,” Mike Takas said. “There’s so many life lessons that go with spots - teamwork, attitue, how to handle adversity - all those different life lessons.” “The simplest thing is just having an opportunity to see a part of your son’s life that most parents won’t be able to see or experience,” Dennis Striegle added. “In school, I get to see him manage and navigate those hour-byhour ups and downs. You’re really along side of him, and you’re able to listen a little more effectively and you have more empathy. And that carries over on the practice field.” Friendships that have connected the coaches are now being passed on to the next generation as well. “It’s not just our dads are coaches, they’re friends too. So we grew up knowing each other,” Adam Nelson said. “My dad has known my friends for a long time, knows all my friends’ parents. That definitely helps. It’s great for him to start off with this I think.” “I feel like we’re on the in a little bit more,” Colin Takas added, “so we can talk to each other and not worry about it getting out to everybody.” And there’s definitely a balance for both the fathers and sons. “It’s hard to get time away,” Caiden Streigle said. “With my dad, too, I have him as a teacher. It’s good, I love him and and in the end, it’s definitely a positive.” “He’s a coach no matter where I am,” Colin Takas added. “He’s critiquing me no matter what I’m doing. There’s pros and cons to it, but more pros. It’s a lot of fun.” “I worry about the perception of a coach’s kid getting special favors or any kind of nepotism,” Joe Nelson added. “All of these boys have earned everything they ever get. I’ve tried to put us all in a position where we don’t coach our own kids position-wise. “Dennis and Mike and I have known eachother a long time and we have implicit trust in each other and how we’re handling each other’s kids. we believe in the program and we know wherever they are they’re going to be taken care of.” “I have to take off my dad hat and put on my coach hat,” Striegle added. “That’s probably the biggest thing, but we’ve become pretty accustomed to it. I think we realize how fortunate we are.” “This is something we’ll remember and laugh about for a lifetime,” Mike Takas concluded. “I’m sure Colin will give me a hard time in years to come, ‘Remember when you did this...’ I look at 5-10 years down the road when we’ll be able to share the experience even more, that will be the fun part of it.”
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