A quartet of Valley high school boys cross country coaches are following their sons’ footsteps.
The four - Jim McLachlan at West Valley, Dave McCarty at East Valley, Bob Barbero at University and Dennis McGuire at Central Valley - currently all coach their distance-running offspring.
Sean McLachlan, an Eagle sophomore, is WV’s No. 2 varsity runner.
CV senior Brien McGuire runs No. 3 for the Bears.
Junior Bryan McCarty runs No. 5 for the Knights.
The Barbero brothers - Mike, a sophomore, and John, a freshman respectively - run for U-Hi.
Mike has placed as high as No. 5 on varsity. His younger brother is a junior varsity competitor.
It isn’t unusual for a father to coach his son. Having four coaches at the four Valley schools doing so at the same time in the same sport is.
“We talked about this four years ago,” said McGuire, who had uncanny prescience.
Back then, his son was an incoming freshman. The others had yet to commit themselves to the sport.
Indeed, at the time it was possible that the younger McLachlan would, like his older brother and sister, twins Geoff and Brook, wind up at East Valley.
But the tug of loyalties between dad at WV and kids at EV in part prompted Sean decision to switch schools.
Besides, said Sean, “ever since I was little I wanted to come here.”
There were problems having dad at one school and children at another, Jim McLachlan said.
“It was fine until we ran against them,” he explained.
There were instances, he recalled, where their performances would have affected the outcome of meets between the Eagles and Knights.
“Do I want Geoff to succeed or my team to win?” said the coach. “The same with Brook. What do I say?”
Which makes the current coach-runner relationship a welcome improvement.
“He’s not nosy or anything,” said Sean.
“We ride to and from school,” said dad. “Other than that he stays away from me.”
And dad can unconditionally cheer on his son.
At Central Valley, Dennis McGuire not only coaches his son but also teaches him in class this year.
Dad became cross country coach at CV because it went with the job. He was hired as a chemistry and physics teacher after leaving private industry as a microbiologist.
Brien became a runner at his dad’s insistence. He didn’t particularly like football or cross country in junior high.
“In ninth grade he was thinking he would go home and watch cartoons and I made him turn out,” said Dennis. “He ended up loving it.”
Baseball was EV’s Bryan McCarty’s initial love. Distance running became his avocation. Like father, like son.
His father, a state champion miler at EV, had been hired at his alma mater initially to coach cross country and assist in baseball. He coached his son during summer youth ball.
“I was always into running,” said Bryan. “Ever since I was little it has been a part of my life.”
Dave told his son he could do both, but Bryan switched to track and cross country full time when pitching became harder to hit.
His last game, a Pony All Star contest, came right after he returned from Pullman and an AAU track meet.
Does dad find it difficult to coach his own boy?
“Sometimes I don’t look at him differently, although my wife tells me I should,” he said. “I’m more team oriented and Bryan’s been a part of that. It is difficult when he’s not successful.”
Since his dad has been his coach forever, running for him at EV has been easy for Bryan.
“There’s no pressure,” he said. “We talk about it a lot at home but when we’re around the team I’m one of the guys.”
Having the Barbero brothers together on the same team at U-Hi is reminiscent of when Bob and his brother Rick competed together in high school a quarter century ago.
“I hope they keep doing it,” said Bob. “It was always fun with my brother and I.”
Dad as coach is an added bonus.
“Mike would bug me to run with him and always be five steps behind,” said Bob. “The other day we ran eight miles and he burned me.”
John, who at this stage isn’t as serious, is tracking along, said Bob.
Like the other coaches, Bob hasn’t found it to be a problem working with his own boys.
“I enjoy it and it is something I’ve dreamed of doing,” he said.
If anything, they all have underemphasized their influence, looking at it as they do as parents and coaches. The rewards outweigh any potential disadvantages.
“I don’t know how it could have been better,” said CV’s Dennis McGuire about coaching his son. “It’s fostered a great relationship between us.”
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