Batting her eyes and with a sheepish grin, Peyton Hewitt glanced across the room at her father and spun a tale about a tough coach whose standards couldn’t be met.
This ol’ grizzly softball coach got his kicks, she said, from making her life difficult. Nothing was ever good enough.
But Hewitt’s serious tone didn’t last long. Before she was halfway through her tall tale, the Decatur High softball senior broke into laughter, providing an honest summation of her favorite coach: Red Raiders assistant David Hewitt.
“My dad is just like me,” Peyton Hewitt said. “We’re both laid back. We definitely liven the team up.”
Cracking a wide smile, David agreed.
“Nope. There’s never a dull moment,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of good times.”
A basketball man by trade, David’s primary coaching gig is on the hardwood as an assistant coach with Decatur’s boys basketball program. But even though his daughter spent most of her childhood inside gymnasiums, Peyton’s athletic interests drew her outdoors to the softball field.
And like the devoted father he is, David stepped outside his comfort zone and followed his daughter, accepting a job in 2008 as an assistant softball coach.
“I enjoy being out there,” David said. “I think it’s been good for both of us. Having always coached boys in basketball, getting an opportunity to coach girls has given me new perspectives on how to approach things. And plus, I’ve got to spend a lot of extra time with Peyton, which is important to me.”
Because of their similar personalities, the Hewitts have a close relationship. The father and daughter have competitive natures, but the serious side never overshadows their fun-loving senses of humor.
Spend a little time around Peyton and David, and constant razzing is noticeable.
“Dad is always picking on me,” Peyton said. “He gives me a hard time — about everything. It’s because we’re just alike. He knows what I’m thinking, and I know exactly what he’s thinking.”
Is this true?
“Yeah, it is,” David said. “Peyton has a lot of my personality. We’ve been known to give each other a hard time.”
The jabs and digs are usually light-hearted. With this coach and player relationship, having fun tops the priority list.
But when the two are inside the baselines, the relationship isn’t all jokes and giggles. Playing winning softball is the expectation, and helping coach Decatur’s players to meet that standard is David’s job.
And that includes his daughter, who plays first and third base for the Red Raiders.
“At our meeting every year, something I always tell the parents is, ‘I’m not going to be any harder on your kids than I am my own daughter,’ ” David said. “And truth be known, I’m probably harder on Peyton than anyone else.”
The last statement drew an instant response from Peyton, followed by a story from her freshman season.
“The first year I played varsity, I ran when I wasn’t supposed to, and I got into a pickle,” she said, trying not to laugh. “When I slid into the base, I got called out, and Dad was on the ground chewing me out. After the game, the first person who met him was mom (Deborah).”
A moment David hasn’t forgotten.
“The only parent who has ever confronted me about the way I treated their kid was my wife,” he said. “That’s why mom has laid down the law. Softball doesn’t come home with us. It stays at the field, and I would say that’s a good rule to have.”
A little stern coaching obviously hasn’t strained the Hewitts’ off-the-field relationship.
With this family, quality time is plentiful.
And most of that time is spent at Decatur High.
Throughout the school year, if a Decatur athletic team is competing, the Hewitt family usually is in attendance. Peyton and Deborah serve as the basketball teams’ statisticians, and Peyton also spent football season working with Encore’s Brad Cheatham as a student athletic trainer.
“Peyton is the type of person who is always going to be involved in some type of activity,” David said. “She stays busy and keeps her grades up. We’re proud of her.”
Peyton said the extra time spent with her father — and family — has been a good thing.
“Having a dad as a coach, there’s a little pressure,” she said. “But it’s a good kind of pressure. There’s an expectation to do things right, and that’s not a bad thing. There are times, like when I see him smiling at me and I know that I did something good, those are great moments. I wouldn’t trade this time for anything.”
Contact Justin Graves at 256-340-2460 or by email at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter@DecaturPreps.
Not registered? Click here
|High School Sports||@DecaturPreps|