Greenwich Time: All-star dads give advice to Sacred Heart Greenwich students

Greenwich Time: All-star dads give advice to Sacred Heart Greenwich students

This article originally appeared on the Greenwich Time website

When Sacred Heart Greenwich set out to teach its students about balancing scholastics and athletics, they didn’t have to look far to find experts.

The private all-girls school put together an all-star panel Thursday night featuring the fathers of four of its students. The Zoom talk, called “What We Learned On The Field and Off,” was part of the school’s Commitment Day celebration, as 12 of its student-athletes announced their college plans.

One big challenge now is the uncertainty of a sports season, as the coronavirus pandemic forces delays and/or cancellations, at every level up to the pros.

“The unknown is scary for everybody,” said Chris Drury, the former NHL star and one of the panelists. “We all live on a clock and a schedule. And for amateur and pro athletes, not knowing when a season might start or when it might stop and when it might get interrupted is very hard for them.

“I tell my three kids to just focus on what you can control in the short term,” said Drury. “You wake up Monday morning, and you know you have five days of school ahead of you and three practices and maybe a game on Saturday. Don’t try and look too far ahead.”

In addition to Drury, a Stanley Cup champion and current assistant general manager for the New York Rangers, the panel included Scott Bacigalupo, a four-time All-American lacrosse goalie at Princeton; Doug Brown, a member of two Stanley Cup-winning Detroit Red Wings teams; and Nick Greisen, a former player with the New York Giants and a standout at the University of Wisconsin.

The program was moderated by Drury’s daughter, Sacred Heart student Dylan Drury. She questioned the four fathers on their memorable moments and challenges overcome in their sports days.

For students preparing to head to college, Bacigalupo stressed the need to have a “game plan” for freshman year about how to structure their day and prioritize everything from sleep to training and meals to studying.

“I didn’t have a game plan, I just showed up and thought it would be the same as high school,” he said. “That’s just not the case.”

Brown recalled that the NHL did not draft him out of college, and he had to earn his spot on his first team as a free agent. Every day was an “absolute battle,” he said. Today, he imparts that lesson to those he coaches, telling them to “keep climbing” while taking the time to enjoy the journey.

“Getting out college and having a pro opportunity was wonderful,” Brown said. “I told my girlfriend at the time, who is now my wife, that I don’t know if this is going to last one day, one week or one year. I need to try the best I can. I need to go after it and I ended up in the league for 15 years.”

Greisen stressed the importance of setting goals.

“Three simple words I’ve taught to my kids is something I learned when I went to my rookie symposium for the NFL,” he said. “It’s: choices, decisions, consequences.

“We all have choices in our life in what we want to do. Do we want to do our homework? Do we want to sleep in? Do we want to go out drinking with our friends? What is it you want to do?” Greisen said.

“The decisions you make in your life now and forever in the future will result in the consequences that you will have to deal with for the rest of your life. … It’s up to you. No one can do it for you. One great line I’ve always taken from my wife is, ‘Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t want to work hard.”

Dylan also asked whether kids should focus on one sport or try out several.

Brown, who said his parents are teachers and coaches and his brother, David, coaches the Rangers under Drury, advocated for a broader approach.

“If there is something you feel you are special in or you love and you want to play in college, then play other sports that complement it,” Brown said. “In my world, it was soccer, hockey and lacrosse. I played all three in high school and two in college and it worked out.”

Bacigalupo advised student athletes to “play as many sports as you can for as long as you can until you find what you love and want to specialize in.” Playing football and basketball helped him in lacrosse, he said.

“I would veer away from those who think you should specialize in a sport at an early age. And my hope is that, and this is something I tell my daughters, is to play as many sports as you can because you never believe some of the skill sets that will help you in whatever sport you ultimately play down the road,” Bacigalupo said.

Kids don’t always know which sport they prefer, Greisen said, or how their growth could impact their athletics.

He said he played soccer as a kid, but at 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds, he wouldn’t have made a good player in high school. But Greisen stressed the importance of sports complementing each other, saying that what he learned while lettering in wrestling helped him in football as a linebacker and basketball taught him about foot quickness and the importance of angles.

Specializing in one sport could lead to injury through repetitive motions, Drury said, and can impact young athletes in a slump who have played only one sport don’t know how to fight back. He said that when he is evaluating a player, he looks for a well-rounded athlete, not someone who is a hockey player 24/7.

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