Coaches' lives are more difficult than they look
In the last two weeks, two prominent UA coaches have taken unexpected leave of absences, shedding some light on the tough lives coaches lead.
On Sept. 27, Arizona announced that assistant men’s basketball coach Emanuel “Book” Richardson will be taking a leave of absence for health reasons. Then a week later, it was announced that baseball head coach Andy Lopez had to undergo triple bypass heart surgery on Monday. On Tuesday at practice, Andy Lopez’s son, assistant coach Michael Lopez, said his father was doing well.
“It’s almost kind of a silent thing. You don’t really know what’s going to happen until it happens, but anyone that works hard at this profession is definitely going to be under stress,” said softball head coach Mike Candrea. “It’s a part of competition. Our bodies all handle it differently and sometimes we neglect ourselves for others, and that can catch up to you. I’m just glad [Andy Lopez]’s in good hands.”
The UA hasn’t updated the public on Richardson’s status or had media availability for men’s basketball since, but Richardson said in a press release in September that he isn’t in serious danger.
“This is not a life or death situation, but nonetheless very important,” Richardson said. “I am very appreciative to be given the flexibility to temporarily step away from coaching and basketball and to concentrate on my well-being. I want to thank [men’s basketball head] coach [Sean] Miller, the Arizona basketball family, and the athletic department for allowing me this opportunity. I look forward to returning to the Arizona basketball program.”
Coaches work almost all year round between games, practices, other team functions, scouting and recruiting.
Indoor volleyball head coach Dave Rubio said that coaches don’t enjoy winning that much, and after losses they are “hard to be around.”
“I think the stress that all coaches go through is hard to measure, but it really affects every aspect of your life,” Rubio said. “You don’t enjoy the winning. It’s a relief to win and the losing is just devastating. It just grinds on you and it stays with you all the way until you get the chance to practice again.”
Michael Lopez and Candrea said they were surprised to hear that Andy Lopez needed heart surgery, because he is in good shape.
“I think for all of us it was kind of shocking, because when you look at him, he doesn’t look like he’s 60. He runs everyday,” Michael Lopez said. “We weren’t expecting surgery, but that’s what it was, and just like he’d say, ‘You gotta attack it.’”
Rubio said families of coaches need to be understanding, and he is thankful that his wife is so supportive.
“There’s just so much that the general public doesn’t really see with coaches and how much stress and concerns and effects that it has upon the coaches and their families,” Rubio said.
But coaching isn’t all negative — Andy Lopez made sure that his son tweeted from the Arizona baseball account to thank all his well-wishers.
“He got a lot of texts, a lot of phone calls, and there is a lot of support, a lot of prayers,” Michael Lopez said. “I think it put him at peace a little bit, as well as the rest of the family.”
— Evan Rosenfeld contributed reporting to this article
—Follow James Kelley @JamesKelley520