May 13, 2016

Parent-coach’s last season with a child sparks emotion

By John Shaughnessy

Dan LutgringFor any parent who has coached their child in a Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) sport, it’s easy to understand and identify with the emotion that Dan Lutgring is experiencing this year.

This spring baseball season is the last time he will coach any of his six children in CYO sports. His youngest child, Thomas, is an eighth-grader playing on the baseball team at Our Lady of the Greenwood Parish in Greenwood, a team that Lutgring is helping as an assistant coach.

“My kids know that I’m not there to coach them, but all the kids,” says Lutgring, who has also coached football and girls’ and boys’ basketball for the parish. “Still, it has been wonderful to coach my kids. When we drive to the games and practices together, it gives me extra, alone time with them, to talk with them—just to be ‘Dad.’

“There’s 17 years between our oldest and our youngest. Now that I know I won’t have one of them beside me next year, that’s emotional. When we finished our season in football—knowing it was our last go-around with him in football—it hit me kind of hard. I’ll likely stay involved, but I’ll miss not having one of my own involved. It’s certainly been a good run, all in all.”

Lutgring shared that run with his wife of 33 years, Joan, who also coached their two daughters in kickball and volleyball.

“She’s really been my strength,” he says. “She encouraged me to coach from the beginning.”

He also takes delight in knowing that three of his former players are now priests in the archdiocese—Fathers Dustin Boehm, Andrew Syberg and Benjamin Syberg.

“That’s very special for me, just knowing I was part of their life for a brief time. Obviously, the CYO is faith-based, and we hold to that.”

Lutgring has also held on to a certain hope as a coach.

“My greatest joy each season is seeing the kids I coached the year before still playing. I always try to encourage them.” †

 

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