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Colemans conquer all with teamwork and a little hustle

Posted by Justin Rice  January 21, 2013 02:54 PM

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The Coleman family poses in their home. (Pavel Dzemianok / For the Boston Globe)

The 2:40 dismissal bell just rang at Burke, meaning crowds of students flock to school buses while teachers remain for about a half-an-hour making sure the school day ends accordingly.

As the teachers casually begin to exit the school and continue on with their day, one dashes out in front of the pack.

Hugh Coleman doesn’t have much time, he’s got to pick up his 10-year-old daughter, Jordyn, and his 6-year-old son, Jaylen, from their schools and he only has thirty minutes to do it.

At Latin Academy another teacher is rushing out of the gym, Hugh’s wife, Emily. Coach Emily Coleman just ended her 2-4 p.m. practice and now must meet her husband at their home in Mattapan so that Hugh can make it to his 5-7 practice at Brighton High School.

That’s just an average day in the life of the Colemans. Oh, and they just had their third child, a 9-week-old boy, Juliyen.

“Our mentality is that [our children are] our responsibility and if we’re teaching, we’re coaching and we got the children it’s our responsibility to figure that out and not someone elses,” said Hugh.

The Colemans have mastered time management. They have successfully maintained their careers as teachers and are each head coaches for stable basketball programs in the BPS system. Hugh, the Globe's Division 2 Coach of the Year last winter, has guided the defending EMass champion Brighton boys to a 6-3 record thus far and Emily has the LA girls in third place in the North division with a 4-2 record.

“We try really hard to have that team concept, we work together as a team,” Hugh said.

This team concept has been essential since the new member of their family arrived. While Emily’s mother-in-law has watched Juliyen during the school day (after her daily bingo of course), the child has always been with one of them in the afternoon.

This still doesn’t stop them from supporting each other at their games.

“He’s so young we don’t want him with anyone else right now. If [Hugh’s] at a game, the babies with me, I’m at a game, he’s holding the baby with one arm and helping me coach across the gym,” Emily said.

Hugh is used to carrying his child in basketball gyms. He even managed to run one of his early try-outs while carrying Juliyen in a sling. Similarly to Emily, Hugh also has a large influence from his partner when it comes to coaching.

“When I got the job at Brighton like literally she is the fifth, sixth coach. Every year when we’re talking about strategy, when we’re talking about coaching the young men, I always have to get her perspective because she knows what she’s talking about,” Hugh said.

No challenge has been hard enough to keep Emily away from coaching, not even pregnancy. She described how before the season, her LA team was going through multiple changes, including the hiring of new assistant coaches. Emily wouldn’t allow herself to take a long maternal leave because of the team’s vulnerable state.

“For me, to just change what they started, it would be pretty devastating to them. That can affect a high school career so I decided to suck it up and say ‘hey, we are together we can work this out,” Emily said. “Just give me two weeks of rest and I’ll be good.”

The coaches continue to mentor their players as if they were their own children. At the end of every season, they invite both teams to their home for a “Dragon vs. Tigers” end of the year banquet. They added that coaching even prepped them for being parents.

“Even before we were real parents, we were parents, raising these kids,” Hugh said.
That means that their children are held to the same high standards their players are held to.

“I tell my girls never settle for Cs because it means you’re average. It’s an average grade and you’re not an average person so that coaching philosophy has carried over in to my personal philosophy,” Emily said.

For the Colemans, the roles of being parents and coaches have complimented each other. Hugh touched on how his parenting skills have allowed him to connect to the young men on his team in ways that other coaches may not be able to.

“How do you get to a kid? How do you psychologically do things? Everything is not just do what I say or X, Y and Z. You have to employ the things you do psychologically for your kids with the students you work with,” Hugh said.

The couple agreed that in order to maintain that connection with their players and be their role models, they must avoid hypocrisy. That means never being late to any of their practices, games, or classes.

“If you’re early, you’re on time and if you’re on time, you’re late,” Hugh said, referring to the mentality he embraced while an assistant coach under former Charlestown head coach Jack O’Brien. “I can’t say something and not follow through because it’s going to be a contradiction."

This is what has continued to motivate the couple in their commitment-filled lifestyles, the dozens of children counting on them and looking up to them. While others may feel overwhelmed by the various challenges in their life, Hugh and Emily Coleman are showing that with teamwork, any challenge can me managed.

However to them, they’re just doing their job.

“[Someone] called me super-woman,” Emily said. “I’m just a mother and a coach. You play the hand you’re dealt.”

Zolan Kanno-Youngs covers Boston Public school athletics. He can be reached at kannoyoungs.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @KannoYoungs.

About Boston Public Schools Sports Blog

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Several reporters, editors and correspondents contribute updates, news and features to the BPS Sports Blog:
  • Justin A. Rice -- A metro Detroit native, Rice is a Michigan State University (Go Spartans!) and Northeastern University graduate. Rice lives in the South End with his dog and wife, who unfortunately attended the University of Michigan ... his wife, that is. He curates the BPS Sports Blog and is always looking to write about city athletes with great stories. Have an idea? He can be reached at jrice.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJustinRice or @BPSspts.
  • Ryan Butler -- A Rhode Island native and avid Boston sports fan, Butler played basketball, baseball and football throughout his time in Barrington Public Schools. Now currently in his middler year at Northeastern University, he joins Boston.com as a correspondent for the site's BPS coverage. Have a story idea? Contact him at butler.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on his Twitter @butler_globe.
Also expect updates from Boston.com High School sports editor Zuri Berry and the Globe staff.