When your dad is the coach... Volleyball: Hammond's ace server Monica McLaughlin sets up her teammates and walks a tight line for the coach, who just happens to be her father.

October 12, 1997|By Stan Rappaport | Stan Rappaport,SUN STAFF

Monica McLaughlin has a supporter in the stands. She has a coach on the bench.

They both love her, but some things are best kept separate.

That's the way it is when your father also is your coach.

A junior at Hammond, McLaughlin is the volleyball team's setter. Ken McLaughlin is her coach; Kathy McLaughlin cheers from the side.

"I become her fan, her parent on the sidelines," said Kathy. "He can't do it because otherwise that shows partiality."

And that, more than anything, is the one thing Ken does not want.

"I think he goes the extra mile to remain impartial," Kathy said. "He's very diligent. He's a perfectionist at heart. He is extremely careful to the point of not praising her, and that's where I come in. I'm the praise. I'm the one that pats her on the back."

Case in point. When Monica served 15 straight points in a recent match against Long Reach, the coach was very low key.

"He's really paranoid about people thinking that he only did something because I'm the coach's daughter," Monica said. "Like that one game when I served out, 15-0. He just said it was a fluke. He couldn't praise me like he would normally with other girls. He doesn't want to say 'You did great' like he would with other players because I'm his daughter and he's sensitive about what people are thinking."

Said Kathy: "I was strutting around the house after she served that 15-0 game. He basically came in and went, 'Good job.' He was very low key. It's tough for him to do that, but I think he knows he's got to do that."

Ken, in his fourth season at Hammond, coached his oldest daughter, Marisha, during his first two years. Monica was a freshman in Marisha's senior year, but she played on the JV.

Ken coached Marisha, now a sophomore at Elon College in North Carolina, on a club team, but not Monica. Ken will coach the second under-18 team in the Columbia Volleyball League, Inc., this winter.

"If she makes the top team that's fine. If she makes my team that's fine, too," said Ken, whose Hammond team is 8-1 overall and 6-1 in the league.

Said Monica: "He's a good coach, but sometimes it's good to have variety and get other coaches input as opposed to one coach all the time."

Monica said the relationship between player/daughter and father "pretty good. We fight like a normal father and daughter would, but on the court I have a lot of respect for him. I've had a lot of coaches that are pretty bad, but he knows what he's doing."

She added: "I know that he does things for a reason. Sometimes other people don't understand that."

As in any team situation, not every player agrees with the coach, but the players realize they must temper their thoughts.

"As a player sometimes you get upset with what the coach does, but you don't want to say something because she's the coach's daughter," said Hammond senior Adriane Panzera.

Ken, a motor development specialist at the Hillcrest Heights Special Center in Prince George's County, insists and the players obey that any discussions about the team go through him. He doesn't want Monica as a go-between.

Monica and Ken keep their volleyball talk limited at home. "He doesn't come home and say, 'Monica you should have done this or you should have done that.' It's tough but he drops it."

Monica has improved her overall game this season, and has developed one of the best serves in the county.

"She deserves a lot of credit for how she plays," Panzera said.

And, Panzera said, she deserves credit for playing for her father.

"I wouldn't want to play for my dad," Panzera said. "I think she handles it very well. She does a good job keeping the two lives separate."

Pub Date: 10/12/97

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