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Soccer dads know best: Visalia coaches take separate paths handling athlete sons

12:00 AM, Jan. 19, 2013 EST

Mt. Whitney coach Rodney Aguiar (top left) says he is lucky for the opportunity to coach his two sons Blake Aguiar (bottom left) and Austin Aguiar (bottom middle). Golden West coach John McCaw (top right) is still getting used to having to coach against his son Hayden McCaw (bottom right), who plays for Mt. Whitney. / Ron Holman

Golden West High School boys soccer coach John McCaw usually looks forward to playing against crosstown rivals.

With three other Visalia high schools playing in the West Yosemite League, McCaw and the Trailblazers see crosstown foes at least six times a season.

Those games are especially fun for McCaw when his team comes out with a win.

But when Golden West opened the 2012-13 West Yosemite League season with a win over Mt. Whitney, McCaw admitted it wasn't one of his favorite moments.

That's because McCaw was coaching against his son, Hayden, who is a sophomore for the Pioneers.

"I wasn't looking forward to it, to be honest," John McCaw said. "I love my son and I wanted him to do well, but at the same time, I coach Golden West and I have a responsibility to my players."

For the next three years, at least two times a season, John McCaw is going to have that sense of awkwardness each time the Trailblazers play the Pioneers.

It is a feeling Mt. Whitney boys soccer coach Rodney Aguiar won't have to deal with.

And that is because Aguiar gets to coach his sons, Blake and Austin.

Blake is a senior midfielder for Mt. Whitney, and Austin is a sophomore goalkeeper.

"It is a great experience to have the opportunity to coach them," Rodney Aguiar said. "I've coached them at the club level, but playing for the high school, it brings back a lot memories. It is a neat experience."

Mt. Whitney and Golden West, which shared the West Yosemite League title last season, met on the pitch for the second time this season on Friday at Mt. Whitney.

It was the Trailblazers pulling out a 1-0 victory on a goal by Christian Ibarra.

Father vs. Son

When Hayden McCaw was going to begin his high school career, he had the option to attend either Mt. Whitney or Golden West.

Hayden lived in the Mt. Whitney district and attended Divisadero Middle School. But his father was a teacher at Golden West, which meant he had the choice to go to school there.

The choice was rather easy for Hayden.

"I knew my friends from Divisadero and I wanted to stay here," he said. "I didn't want to go to a new school or meet new people."

So Hayden stayed at Mt. Whitney, and as a freshman was a late-season call-up for the Pioneers' Central Section Division III playoff team.

The Pioneers went on to capture the Valley championship, and because of that Hayden had the option of getting a championship ring.

"I remember when that discussion came up at the dinner table," John McCaw said.

"My first thought was, 'hold on, he's been playing varsity for about a month.' My wife was saying we have to get a ring. I was thinking, 'wait, I don't want to look at that ring for so many years.' He wore it to the table and we laughed and joked, but he doesn't flaunt it or wear it, so it is fine, I guess."

Hayden said being a part of that championship run with Mt. Whitney was a lot of fun. He learned a lot and made him think about the future and the level of soccer he'd like to be playing when he was a senior.

The future came very soon for Hayden. The Pioneers graduated a plethora of seniors and a starting job became available for the sophomore.

When the Pioneers opened the WYL season against the Trailblazers, there he was, in the starting lineup, getting the chance to play against his dad's team.

Round one went to John with Golden West winning 2-0.

"He always says that it wasn't his favorite win," Hayden said. "He got the win, but since I was playing and he enjoys watching me play, it wasn't his favorite."

Hayden admitted to being nervous going into that first game against Golden West. He had played for his dad most of his life and it was different playing against him.

Playing for his dad wasn't always easy for Hayden.

"I really like him as a coach. I think he's a really good coach," Hayden said.

But that doesn't mean there wasn't some tension. Hayden recalls getting grounded after getting into arguments with his dad regarding soccer. Sometimes that meant no video games or no cellphone.

"It wasn't always the best situation," John McCaw said.

"I guess there are parents who can do it. It was hard separating the parent and the coach. I was probably harder on him than I should've been. At the same time, he knew exactly what buttons to push to get me mad.

"But now that he's older, I'd like to think it would be different. I'm not sure."

Father and Coach

Being able to separate father and coach isn't always easy, but John McCaw says it is something Rodney Aguiar has done a great job of.

Rodney Aguiar has been able to do it with two sons.

"You have to be able to balance the personal relationships, making sure you're fair to everyone, which I think I've been able to do," Rodney Aguiar said. "You have to make sure there are no favorites. At times, I'm harder on my boys and that's on purpose."

Blake is a senior and has been starting for the Pioneers since his sophomore year.

Being the coach's son hasn't always been easy on him.

"It is hard because most of the time, most people think you're on the team because your dad is the coach," Blake said. "When I made varsity my sophomore year, I got looked at like, 'why are you playing? Only because you're the coach's son.' "

Blake has proven those doubters wrong.

He was a starter for last year's Division III championship team, and he is one of the team captains this year.

"I'm not a big goal scorer, but I do what I can to help the team," he said.

Rodney says Blake and Austin have different personalities, and he has had an easier time coaching Blake.

"It hasn't been a problem so far," Rodney said. "Blake had a pretty good understanding about the boundaries. This is really the first time I've coached Austin. It is a little different because he has a different personality. He is more outgoing and speaks his mind. He just needs to control that."

Austin admits that he does like to talk back to his dad a bit. Austin said he got into it with his dad during halftime of the Redwood game, but he heard about it when the they got home.

"It is way different playing for him compared to playing for anybody else," Austin said.

"I like to talk back to him. I shouldn't because he's my coach. With anybody else, it is easy to take the criticism and not talk back, but for some reason, with him I do."

Austin said he may get into it with his dad a little bit more than Blake does, but it hasn't really been a big problem.

"All in all, I enjoy it," Austin said. "I wouldn't want to be playing for anybody else."

Playing for dad is one thing, but playing with your brother is another, and Blake said he enjoys it.

"I think he looks up to me a bit," Blake said.

"It is nice to keep him confident. He is really good being as young as he is, but if he makes a mistake and I tell him to keep his head up, he might listen to me a bit more. It is nice to be able to encourage him and know he listens."

And being the proud father he is, Rodney enjoys seeing it.

"I really do enjoy coaching my boys," he said.

"It is nice to be able to make sure they have a good environment to play in. Hopefully they're learning and doing the right things. It is nice to have the opportunity to have that."




Boys Basketball

Rank School Record
1 Mission Oak High School
Tulare, CA
2 El Diamante HS
Visalia, CA
3 Mt. Whitney High School
Visalia, CA
4 Redwood High School
Visalia, CA
5 Central Valley Christian School
Visalia, CA