Coach-Son Relationship ‘A Balancing Act'


At times, the relationship between an athlete and a coach can get a little strained.


Despite being father and son, Coach Chuck Hardt says he treats his son, Hunter, just like any other player on the team.

Especially if the coach is your dad.

In small towns like Payson, it's typical for parents to step in and volunteer their time as coaches, and many young athletes end up in a unique situation.

Where do you go to relax after practice if the coach is sitting on the other side of the couch?

For Hunter Hardt, a 16-year-old sophomore at Payson High School, he has been facing that dilemma since he was in T-ball.

His father, Chuck Hardt, has coached Hunter in T-ball, Little League, basketball and track and field.

Hunter said the experience has been difficult at times.

Hunter said it's hard to get away from the stresses of athletics when they talk about it at the dinner table, or when his friends are on the team.

"There's times when I get pretty mad at him for saying stuff I don't agree with, but I'm used to him."Hunter Hardt - about having his father as a coach

He recalled a time last year when his dad made a couple of his friends do pushups at practice, and Hunter didn't have to. His friends gave him a hard time after the incident, saying that his dad favors Hunter.

Essentially, Chuck and Hunter will never escape scrutiny from other parents and players.

"Until you come down and spend two to three hours a day, five days a week, and you understand how we relate as a team, don't try to second-guess me," Chuck said.

Chuck said he tries not to push Hunter too hard or treat him too soft.

"It's kind of a balancing act," he said. "Try to do no more or no less. I would just hope he understands the commitment he needs to make when he gets on that (basketball) court. He does a pretty good job."

Despite the occasional clashes, Hunter said there are benefits to having inside information.

"It's nice because if I have questions I can just ask him, and I usually know everything before hand," Hunter said. "I think it's made us closer. He does a lot of coaching so he's not home a lot, and being in the sport he's coaching kind of helps."

Chuck admitted that he got into coaching for "self-serving" reasons.

"I'm a stickler for the finer points of the game and the approach to the game," he said. "If I have a chance, I'd rather not entrust some things to other folks, like getting to practice on time, being a leader, not being negative around your teammates or your family and supporting your family."

Chuck said that anything a parent can do to spend time with his or her children can be beneficial.

"It doesn't always even have to be quality time," he said. "You've just got to spend time, whether it's fishing or it's on the court."

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