Verona girls basketball coach Angie Murphy already is dreading a specific late-season moment.
That will be when the team’s seniors — including her daughter, Megan Murphy — will be recognized for their contributions. The postseason still will be on the horizon, but Angie Murphy realizes her time coaching her daughter will be nearing its conclusion.
“I love watching her play,” Angie Murphy said. “That’s the hardest part. That she’s a senior now. Those four years go so fast. … Senior night is going to be tough on me because the journey is over.”
Angie Murphy has coached Megan Murphy during her four high school seasons and acknowledged the journey hasn’t always been easy for mother and daughter, coach and player.
Sometimes, those worlds collided and drama ensued.
People are also reading…
But overall, the experience has been overwhelmingly positive for the two.
“I wouldn’t change it,” Angie Murphy said. “It’s been wonderful, but it’s been tough. As a coach’s kid, you are under a microscope. We have great parents here and we have great kids, so she hasn’t had to deal with a lot of that, but I have known horror stories where coaches coach their kids and people say, `Well, that kid is playing because their mom or dad is the coach.’
“We haven’t had to deal with that here. She earned it on the court because of her skills, not because her mom is the coach.”
Megan Murphy, who first started playing basketball in kindergarten and now has verbally committed to UW-Stevens Point, said, “It’s fun to share the wins with her and the good things about basketball.”
But she added, “We try to avoid talking about basketball at home. Otherwise, it gets to be too much.”
Parents frequently coach their children in youth sports and that dynamic also occurs in high school sports. Each relationship between coach and player is unique, but it can become magnified when the coach also is a parent.
Through a series of interviews, here’s a glimpse into this coaching dynamic and a sampling of experiences:
Waupun girls basketball coach Tim Aalsma said initially he had been reluctant to take the job six years ago.
“I think any time you are a coach, you have a little bit of a target, or if you are in a position of leadership,” he said.
He was coaching in the boys program, but said he accepted the girls’ job after another candidate dropped out.
He’s glad he did. It led him to coaching his daughters.
“I love it,” he said. “I’ve appreciated every moment. We have made great memories, for the team, the school district and the community.”
Waupun coach Tim Aalsma, top middle, coached his daughters, from left, Abbie and Naomi, and sophomore Lydia. Abbie Aalsma is playing at Illinois State while her sister, Naomi Aalsma, is a student there.
A year ago, Aalsma directed Waupun to the WIAA Division 3 state championship. That team included twin daughters Naomi Aalsma and Abbie Aalsma, who were seniors, and daughter Lydia Aalsma, then a freshman.
“It’s been very rewarding and stressful at other times,” Tim Aalsma said. “It’s a thing I wouldn’t trade for the world and I don’t think my kids would either.”
He has savored the success they’ve shared and talking about the sport with his daughters.
“I have three daughters who love the sport,” he said. “They love to have the conversations. Then there’s the `dad’ piece of it. I’ve tried to have a good balance of it.”
Aalsma said compliments from the coach weren’t overly forthcoming when he played in college, so he had to learn to be more willing to offer praise to his players.
But he said he was hesitant to give too much praise to his daughters, wary of the opinions of outside observers.
That changed when Abbie Aalsma, during her sophomore season, asked him, “Why don’t you tell me, `Great job,’ like you do the others?’’
That stopped him in his tracks.
Tim Aalsma said he realized, “I can still praise my own kid,” and believed he’s done a better job as the years progressed. He also understood that each of his daughters had unique personalities and needed to be treated accordingly.
This season, state-ranked Waupun’s team features Marquette recruit Kayl Petersen, Lydia Aalsma, now a sophomore, and 5-foot-4 Gracie Gopalan.
“I don’t look at them as my kids when they are out there on the court,” Tim Aalsma said. “They are players.”
After quarterback Jerry Kaminski scored his first touchdown as a freshman, he and his father, Sun Prairie East football coach Brian Kaminski, didn’t know how to react.
Jerry Kaminski said they shared a fist bump on the sideline and his father later congratulated him at home.
Brian Kaminski did that because he was worried about others’ opinions.
“I didn’t want to celebrate with him,” Brian Kaminski said. “`What would other people think?’ Later, I talked to my wife about it. I thought, `That’s not fair to Jerry. We should celebrate good things.’”
Sun Prairie coach Brian Kaminski embraces his son, Jerry Kaminski, following a 38-17 loss to Franklin in the WIAA Division 1 state championship game on Nov. 19, 2021, at Camp Randall Stadium.
And so they did throughout Jerry’s high school career — the first three playing for Sun Prairie High School and his senior season this fall at Sun Prairie East (which is the same building).
The duo led the Cardinals to the WIAA Division 1 state championship game in 2021, losing to Franklin, 38-17, to finish 13-1.
“It was an unbelievable experience to share together,” Brian Kaminski said. “It was a great experience — to coach your son and make those memories. It can be tough, especially when you’re a quarterback like Jerry was. … But Jerry earned all the accolades he got.”
He played some as a freshman, split time with senior Brady Stevens as a sophomore and was the starter and an All-State performer as a junior and senior, playing for his father.
“It was awesome the connection we had,” said Jerry Kaminski, a North Dakota commit. “He was the first person to believe in me. He had trust in me to make plays.”
While some coaches and their children try to separate home and the playing field, Brian and Jerry Kaminski watched film at home.
“We both wanted to win so bad,” Jerry Kaminski said. “I looked forward to it.”
Said Brian Kaminski: “We talked about (football) quite a bit at home. It was nice to call up film and look at plays. He’s a sponge for football. We got along really well. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.”
Jerry Kaminski did recall his father chastising him when he was a sophomore for getting a 15-yard penalty for celebrating, telling him he wouldn’t play another down if he did that again.
“I never got another 15-yarder,” Jerry Kaminski said.
Brian Kaminski plans to continue coaching the Cardinals when Jerry goes off to college, but he said the experience won’t be the same. He’ll miss Jerry, who started roaming the sideline during practice when he was 5 years old.
Sun Prairie West boys basketball coach Chris Davis starting coaching his son, Wolves sophomore guard Chris Davis Jr., at a young age.
But this high school season has been different. Chris Davis is in his first year as the Wolves’ coach after being an assistant on Matt Miota’s staff at Madison East, where Chris Davis Jr. played as a freshman prior to transferring.
“It’s a different dynamic,” Chris Davis said. “Obviously, as an assistant I usually just pointed him in a direction.
“But as a head coach, I have to hold him accountable more because that’s my son and I try to use him for an example of many things I do. … I like to put him in the front of the line (in practice) because he knows what I expect and he knows the drills. So, I can use him to motivate the kids and show the kids exactly what we need and are trying to do.”
Chris Davis Jr. doesn’t mind that. He is accustomed to helping in practice.
“Since I was 3 years old, I always was coached by my dad,” he said. “I always got pushed a lot because I’m his son and he always wants to see me be great. To this day, I always loved being coached by my dad. There is nothing better. … Then getting to your high school years and you get to be coached by your dad is my best feeling. I’m blessed I got coached by my dad in high school.”
He said the two of them solve everything on the court.
“I have to keep my head in the game, knowing my dad will say something,” he said.
Chris Davis said he tries to create “a family-oriented vibe” on the team.
“It’s not like I put all the pressure on Chris or single him out,” Chris Davis said. “I treat all the kids the exact same way.”
Sun Prairie West coach Chris Davis stands next to his son, Chris Davis Jr., against Verona on Dec. 9, 2022 at Verona Area High School.
But Chris Davis acknowledged it can be difficult to balance the role of father and coach.
“I’m always his dad,” he said. “At any point, I can stop being his coach. But I can’t stop being his dad. With that in mind, I’ve always had his best interests. … He knows that I’m going to push him hard and he knows what to expect and he knows the outcome if he’s not performing like he needs to in the classroom, on the basketball court or anywhere in life.
“He knows his dad is going to be on his butt to make sure he is doing great. I’m a little hard on him but that’s because, obviously, I care about him and I want the best for my son.”
Learning a lesson
Mount Horeb boys basketball coach Todd Nesheim has a tip for parents who coach their children or plan to coach their children.
“My best advice is to let (the player) go experience some other coaches,” he said.
Nesheim —who played for his father, Doug, at Mount Horeb — gained that perspective coaching his own son Terek Nesheim.
The conversation occurred that Todd Nesheim treated Terek Nesheim differently when he was coaching him during his youth years.
Still, as a family, they decided it best for Terek Nesheim to have a different coach in eighth grade, Todd Nesheim said. Terek Nesheim played for his dad during three varsity seasons, and then played at UW-La Crosse.
“I think he’s grateful for the coaching he got in high school,” Todd Nesheim said. “It went very well. It went very smoothly. We had good teams, which makes it easier, I suppose.”
Having a son on the team can create scrutiny from those outside the program, but Todd Nesheim said, “He had earned it.”
Another son, Kam Nesheim, is a freshman on the Junior Varsity this season and is on the varsity roster. And Todd Nesheim’s dad still sits in the front row and offers Todd his coaching perspective after games.
Megan Murphy primarily has been coached in basketball by a parent — her father, Brian Murphy, in fourth to eighth grade and her mother during high school.
“I like the team aspect mostly,” Megan Murphy said about playing for the state-ranked Wildcats. “It’s fun to win games and it’s fun to be part of a team. The girls are all really nice. They are my best friends.”
Verona coach Angie Murphy greets her daughter, Megan Murphy, as she comes off the court against Sun Prairie East on Dec. 13, 2022 at Verona High School.
Megan Murphy said she liked having a parent as a coach, although she added that’s really all she’s known and sometimes bumps in the road arose playing for her mom.
“It’s difficult sometimes,” Megan Murphy said. “I feel sometimes we fight a little bit. We’re getting used to it a little bit. I’ve had her for four years. I think she’s a good coach.
“Sometimes, it is difficult to differentiate mom from coach at practice. … You just have to deal with it. You have to try to think of her as a coach and not as your mom at that point. It’s the way it has to be.”
Angie Murphy agreed the mother-daughter dynamic can be difficult.
“It has its moments,” said Angie Murphy, who surpassed 300 career victories this season. “It can be challenging for her and me. She has a hard time turning off the mom comments instead of hearing the coaching.
“… Being able to distinguish between the two in practice is hard sometimes. I forget that dynamic, as well. So that’s always a challenge. We try not to talk about basketball at home. It would be all day. That’s too much.”
Keeping it separate
Madison La Follette girls basketball coach Will Green said he started coaching his daughter Malia Green when she was in kindergarten.
He later coached her when she played in high school for the Lancers. She’s now a freshman on the Carthage College women’s basketball team.
Will Green, who played men’s basketball at UW-Eau Claire, said a lot of parents have difficulty coaching their children because they can’t separate coaching and home life. He said he made it a point not to bring talk of basketball home with them.
“I did a very good job of coaching Malia to be who she was and I didn’t bring it home,” he said.
He said having a child on a team can be difficult from a perception standpoint.
“It was hard from a coach’s standpoint and having people in the stands thinking you are giving your kids this opportunity that maybe they didn’t deserve,” Will Green said. “But Demetria (Prewitt, whose father also is a coach in the program) and Malia were our staple girls that never missed. … They always showed up and got the job done.”
Will Green also said parent coaches sometimes place stress and unfair expectations on their children.
“I feel like a lot of times coaches can put pressure on their kids to get a college scholarship,” he said. “I keep it in perspective. I tell these girls it’s about you and life and not basketball.”
In the spotlight
McFarland girls basketball coach Sara Mallegni wasn’t certain how coaching her daughter Teagan Mallegni would unfold in high school.
Sara Mallegni (pronounced Mulaney) usually sat in the stands and watched her daughter play when she was younger and was coached by her father and others. Back then, Teagan Mallegni didn’t listen much to her mother when it came to basketball, Sara said with a laugh.
But Sara Mallegni said her experience coaching Teagan Mallegni, a heavily recruited 6-foot-1 wing for the state-ranked Spartans, in high school has been great.
“It’s been really fun,” Sara Mallegni said. “We don’t have any drama. She is very coachable. We have had some great coaches here so she also can go to other people to talk.
“We talk about basketball on her time. We don’t talk about basketball at home, unless it’s initiated by her. She is so self-directed, we don’t talk a lot about basketball. She’s a teenager. She wants to be in her room or talking to her friends.”
McFarland’s Teagan Mallegni works on a ball-handling drill during a practice last season.
Teagan Mallegni’s personality and helpfulness normally make for smooth sailing.
“She’s such a nice person,” Sara Mallegni said.
She’s also a player numerous colleges covet. The recruiting process initially was exciting for Teagan Mallegni, but then became a bit overwhelming, her mother said. Sara Mallegni said Iowa, the University of Wisconsin, Oregon, Kansas, Duke, North Carolina, Louisville and Ohio State currently are top candidates.
There’s another element to Chris Davis and Angie Murphy coaching their children.
Madison East graduate Davis was the WIAC Player of the Year and NCAA Division III Player of the Year for UW-Whitewater when it won the 2012 national title.
Angie (Halbleib) Murphy, a prolific scorer and outstanding outside shooter, was one of the state’s top high school players at Middleton who then became a standout at the University of Kansas.
“It puts a lot of pressure on him because everybody expects him to be great because I was a good athlete,” Chris Davis said. “But in reality, you can want your kid to be great, but they have to want it as well. Chris Jr. is as passionate as I was. … He tries to perform at a high level every night, which is a blessing.
“But sometimes being young he tries to do too much. That’s when I come in as a parent and as his coach. That’s my son and I know him well and I know what will push him and what will push him over the top.”
Angie Murphy said she doesn’t ever want her daughter to compare herself to her mom as a player.
“She’s her own player,” said Angie Murphy, who loves her daughter’s work ethic.
Said Megan Murphy: “I try not to compare myself to her. It was a different time and she was a different player. I feel like her basketball knowledge is good because of how good she was back in the day.”
Back in current day, though, Angie Murphy wants her kids, including son Andrew Murphy who is a sophomore standout for the Verona boys basketball team, to enjoy the moment because time can be so fleeting.
“I just want her to have fun,” Angie Murphy said. “It is a different dynamic coaching your kid than just watching your kid. I get to watch Drew play and that’s a different thing. I feel that is more nerve-racking sitting in the stands because you are not distracted. You want them to win so bad and have fun with their friends because these four years go so fast.”
See where these Madison-area high school athletes will compete in college
School: Marian University
School: University of Wisconsin
School: Washington University (St. Louis)
School: St. Olaf
School: University of St. Thomas (Minn.)
School: University of Arizona
School: Southern Illinois University
School: University of Iowa
School: New Jersey Institute of Technology
School: University of Idaho
School: University of Utah
School: Carroll University
School: Loyola University Chicago
School: Edgewood College
School: Winona State University
Sport: Men’s basketball
School: Saint Peter’s University
School: University of Wisconsin-Platteville
School: University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee
School: University of Wisconsin
School: University of Wisconsin
Sports: Cross country and track
School: University of Toledo
Madilyn Vander Sanden
School: University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
Sport: Track and field
School: Clark Atlanta University
School: Cleveland State
School: University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
School: Lewis University (Illinois)
School: Illinois State
SUN PRAIRIE WEST
School: Colorado State
School: Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis
School: St. Louis University
School: St. Cloud State
School: Mercer University
School: Grand Valley State University
School: Northern Michigan
School: University of Wisconsin
Sport: Track and field
School: Northern Michigan
MORE TO COME
Check back for updates to the list as more area students announce their college commitments. And if you notice a local student athlete missing from the list, email the student’s information to [email protected].
School: College of Charleston
School: Ohio University
School: Michigan Technological University
School: Augustana University (South Dakota)
School: University of Minnesota
Sport: Men’s swimming and diving
School: North Dakota State
Sport: Wrestling (November).
School: Minnesota State-Mankato
Sport: Women’s track and field (Dec. 21)
School: Viterbo University
Sport: Women’s soccer (Dec. 21)
School: Bryant & Stratton
Sport: Women’s volleyball (Dec. 21)
SUN PRAIRIE EAST
Sport: Swimming and Diving (Dec. 21)
School: North Dakota
Sport: Football (Dec. 21)
School: UW-Oshkosh (Dec. 21)
School: Minnesota State-Moorhead
Sport: Swimming and diving (Dec. 21)
School: Lake Forest
Sport: Golf (Dec. 21)
School: Bemidji State
Sport: Women’s tennis (Dec. 21)
School: Iowa State University
Sport: Football (Dec. 21).
Get in the game with our Prep Sports Newsletter
Sent weekly directly to your inbox!