Like most Zags fans, Roger Powell Jr. was eager to watch the Gonzaga-Portland game Jan. 9, but first had to wait for the Seahawks-Rams NFC playoff game and the postgame show to end on Fox 28.
The biggest difference between Powell and the average GU fan? He compiled Gonzaga’s scouting report of the Pilots, he was holding 1-day-old daughter Faith in his arms and he was bugging nurses at the hospital to find another station airing the Zags game.
“I had the scout prepared and handed it over to B-Mike (assistant Brian Michaelson) the day before when everything started to happen,” said Powell, the second-year Gonzaga assistant coach. “I was a wreck. I’m holding my kid, couldn’t get the game on because of football, so I’m following it on the ticker on my phone. Crazy couple days.”
To go with a crazy month for the Powell family.
There was Roger’s routine of practices, games and travel with the top-ranked Zags, along with holidays, relatives, presents, three kids at home and wife Tara due on Christmas Day.
Turns out Faith took her time, arriving on Jan. 8, the day before the Portland game. It was the first game Powell had missed in 10 years of coaching.
“It’s been insane, I’m not going to lie, but it’s been great and my little girl is beautiful,” Powell said. “Coach (Mark) Few has been very understanding. There’s no maternity leave in coaching, so I’ve been working every day, but thank God I haven’t had a lot of scouting reports. I had my birthday Jan. 15, which I didn’t even realize.
“It’s been fun, crazy, intense.”
Powell took a commercial flight on game day – his flight left at 5 a.m. – to make the Virginia game Dec. 26 in Fort Worth, Texas, in case Faith arrived on Tara’s due date. He returned that evening on the team charter.
The games and the waiting continued for two weeks before Faith was born, joining 10-year-old Bria, 6-year-old Liam and 18-month-old Gabriel.
“The No. 1 thing I wanted to be was a dad and have a big family,” said Powell, a former Illinois standout who started his coaching career as an assistant at Valparaiso in 2011. “Although it’s chaos, I love hearing my kids fight over who gets to watch what on TV. It’s chaos, but it’s beautiful. The only time I’m not happy is when it’s 11 (p.m.) or 1 a.m. or 3 or 5 and you want to get some sleep, but there might be two babies crying.
“My in-laws have been helping a ton. It would be impossible without some help.”
Powell enjoyed a cool parental moment after Gonzaga’s win over Northwestern State a month ago. Inside a nearly empty McCarthey Athletic Center, Powell snapped pictures of the cardboard cutouts of Bria, Liam and Gabriel stationed in chairs a few rows behind Gonzaga’s bench and showed them to his kids later.
It might be time to add another cardboard cutout to the family lineup.
“That’s a great idea,” Powell said. “I’m going to email our ticket person and see if I can get one for Faith.”
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