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Hallises find balance between coaching, family

By CHUCK LANDIS - clandisd@chronicle-tribune.com

Adam and Jamie Hallis are like many 30-something couples balancing career and children - with one very notable exception.

The Hallises are the Eastbrook boys’ and girls’ soccer coaches and Saturday will have their teams competing in the regional round of the IHSAA state tournament. Adam has coached the boys since the sport’s inception in 2012, while Jamie took over the girls before the current season.

At times, they have been like ships passing through the night on their way to different matches or off to practice. Then, they also must attend to their three children: daughters Ellie, age 13, and Micah, 8, and son Keagan, 10, who each are active in school and sports.

Jamie admits it’s not always easy keeping up with their demanding schedules, which for her includes working a full day as a guidance counselor and Adam teaching classes at the high school.

“We’re really tired, and our house is a mess,” Jamie said.

Joking aside, Adam said Jamie is the rock in the arrangement and has been even before she jumped into coaching two years ago as former coach Rebecca Shrontz’s assistant. Both credit the Eastbrook soccer community and players with pitching in whenever help is needed.

“We did have a high schooler watching the kids for most of the season and this is actually our first week without her,” Jamie said. “She would take them home from school and she would get them over to their soccer games at Blackford and stay with them on nights where we both have games. That made a huge difference, especially for me.”

Actually, Adam said the pace has slowed down now that it’s postseason and there are not matches throughout the week. Wednesday after a rain-shortened practice, the Hallises went to a chili supper in the high school cafeteria and then Jamie stayed to watch Ellie perform in the band.

“Jamie was just great when I was a coach all those years and last year when she was an assistant coach and we kinda made it work,” Adam said. “The soccer community at Eastbrook is great and there’s people who watch the kids and things like that. But Jamie does so much work at home and at the school and with the girls to make it work.”

The Hallises met essentially on the pitch while they attended Indiana Wesleyan University and were on the men’s and women’s soccer teams. Jamie’s father was a basketball and track coach, and from the beginning of their relationship Adam was involved in coaching.

“My dad was a coach and I grew up in empty gyms,” Jamie said. “I assume coaching runs in my genes because I went to my first track meet when I was a month old.

“But I don’t really think of myself as a coach because I’m not very competitive,” she added. “I know that sounds crazy, but that’s been the biggest switch from being the assistant coach to the head coach. I’m exhausted because I have to care whether we win or not and that’s the hardest thing for me to adjust to is being more intense about the winning.”

Yet, the opportunity to coach a young and talented Eastbrook girls’ soccer team certainly appealed to Jamie, and in her first season guided the Panthers to a 16-1 season and the school’s fifth sectional championship. Adam said he thought Jamie would someday want to become a coach, but they were waiting until the children were older.

“We joked around and said wouldn’t it be fun if we both were coaching,” Adam said. “But the opening wasn’t there at the time. Last year, (assistant coach) opened at the right time to be a good opportunity for both of us, and then this year (head coach) opened up and we talked about it.

“It was a great group of girls and she got along with them well as an assistant coach and thought it would be fun to coach them again,” he added.

Jamie said Adam definitely was supportive of her becoming the girls’ coach and he enjoys watching her on the pitch with her team. But before she accepted the position, they sought out the approval of their children.

“We wanted to make sure the kids were okay with it and we sat them down and asked them, thinking they might have some reservations,” Jamie said. “But all three of them said yes, we definitely want you to do that.

“Now, Micah jumps into our practices with the girls sometimes and Keagan loves being on the field,” she added. “Often, the two of them are wrestling around and the girls think it’s hilarious.”

Adam has led the Panthers boys to an outstanding 13-1 season and a second consecutive sectional title. They play Leo (10-5-1) at noon Saturday in the semifinals of the Class 2A  regional at Oak Hill.

At the same time, Eastbrook’s girls play in the Class A regional at Northwestern High School, Kokomo, and face Fort Wayne Canterbury (3-13). The sectional championship games at both sites are 7 p.m. Saturday.

While the hours are often long and time with family fluctuates, Jamie said the joy she and her husband get from coaching their players make it time well spent.

“I have to say kids the we work with on both of the teams just make it worth it,” she said. “They all love soccer so much, and I know specifically with my team they love playing soccer and they love playing soccer together. So it doesn’t feel like work coming to practice and that definitely made it easier for both of us doing this, and it’s fun being out on the field together.”