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The Journal Gazette

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Tracy Coffman, head softball coach at the University of Northwestern Ohio and wife of IPFW men's basketball coach Jon Coffman, is always on the move with her job and children, Tommy, 8, and Lucy, 5.

Sunday, May 14, 2017 1:00 am

Courage, love, sacrifice

Embracing family 'juggling act'

AUBREE REICHEL | The Journal Gazette

Tracy Coffman would not describe her family's life as challenging.

But as the head coach of the softball team at the University of Northwestern Ohio and with husband Jon Coffman the men's basketball coach at IPFW, their lives are definitely busy.

“It's always definitely a juggling act, no matter if the kids are babies or you're an assistant or a head coach, it's always a balancing act,” she said. “I wouldn't necessarily call our life challenging. We're busy, but what parents aren't busy?

“What we do say in our house is that, 'Every day is game day.' There's something important with one of our programs every day of the year.”

With that, though, the Coffmans will spend Mother's Day celebrating with Tommy, 8, and Lucy, 5, at home.

“It's one of those days where I don't actually have anything scheduled,” she said, laughing. “We'll maybe mow the lawn, hang out and my mom lives close so we'll visit with her a little bit. It'll be nice to sit on the deck and hang out with the kids. We do a lot (in the backyard) in terms of play, but we don't have a lot of big plans (for today).

“We take advantage of the downtime, that's for sure.”

In addition to her two kids, Coffman could be seen as a mother of sorts to the softball program she coaches.

Located about an hour from Fort Wayne in her hometown of Lima, Ohio, Coffman started the softball program for the Racers.

“I was pregnant with Lucy and we moved here (for Jon) to be an assistant (at IPFW),” she said, “and I was fortunate to get a call one day and was asked to start the program at the University of Northwestern Ohio. So Lucy was about seven months old at the time, so Tommy was 3.

“It was kind of an interesting time. I had about a year and a half to recruit and started that program from scratch, and we just finished our fourth year.”

Coffman was a pitcher and middle infielder at Toledo before taking assistant jobs at Stetson and Central Florida. She accepted a head coaching position in Hamilton, New York, when Jon was at Colgate, then ended up in the Summit City.

“We definitely have scheduling conflicts but we've been fortunate enough to have great bosses, great head coaches and a great support system,” she said. “We've been fortunate to have that, not only when we had kids but when we didn't have kids.”

Both Coffmans like to take a family approach for their respective teams which makes it fun for the family during away games, recruiting visits and having players over to their house.

“As long as I can remember, Lucy's been hoisted on a 6-foot-7 guy's shoulders. Big Steve (Forbes) was always grabbing her and they're obviously very close,” Tracy said. “We were driving back from Lima when they announced Max Landis was going to Belgium and Tommy just broke into tears for a good half an hour because he just didn't understand why Max was going so far away. It was really, really difficult. He came home this fall with a library book about Belgium that he'd found in his school's library.

“It's pretty awesome as a parent, not only to have your kid around, but I also think to myself how lucky we are to have such student-athlete role models for our own children,” Tracy said. “We talk to our kids all the time about great things they do, the work ethic we have, we're fortunate to have that. So many people are trying to find those role models for their kids and they're readily available.”

areichel@jg.net