Being the head coach for a professional sports team is challenging enough but Frank Vogel is also a father – to two young girls. The Pacers’ head coach and his wife, Jenifer, have two girls: Alexa, who’ll begin the fifth grade this fall, and Arianna, a third grader.
Frank and his daughters spoke to a crowd of about 80 fans about 45 minutes prior to the Indiana Fever’s 107-102 overtime loss to the Tulsa Shock Wednesday evening, part of “Daddy/Daughter Date Night.”
So what’s it like having your dad be just one of 30 NBA head coaches?
“It’s fun but he is away a lot. He’s still home enough so we can play with him,” said Alexa.
“It’s fun but we don’t get to see him that much,” added Arianna, the youngest.
That’s going to happen with the demands of an NBA head coach. He’s always being pulled away for coaching meetings, practices, games, media sessions, and public appearances. That doesn’t even include time spent on his own, game planning and watching film. To make up for it, every minute is critical when coach is home from the Fieldhouse.
“It’s kind of 100 miles an hour when I get home,” he explained. “It’s rest with daddy, play sports with daddy, laugh with daddy, game with daddy. We definitely have a lot of fun when I am home!”
While on the road, he’ll often FaceTime with his family to always stay on top of what they’re up to. As they watch road games from their home, the girls insist that mom is the most vocal.
When his girls are able to make home games — they always sit in the first row behind the scorer’s table — Frank is sure to wave, wink or send a smile their way. Otherwise, he said he’ll hear about it from Arianna.
After he became the Pacers’ head coach in 2011, Alexa shortly thereafter came home and told her father, “Dad, I’ve become very popular at school because of you!”
The Vogel’s love Indianapolis, as well as their home in Carmel. Nancy Leonard, the wife of Hall of Famer Slick Leonard, was their realtor. Frank wanted a family-friendly environment and a neighborhood full of kids – and that’s exactly what they got. On Alexa’s first soccer team, when she was seven, Frank said all eight or nine of their players lived on the same street – not the same area or neighborhood but the same street. That was special.
Last year, Frank coached Alexa’s soccer team, which admittedly wasn’t very good. He recalled a big mistake he made.
“We were going for it, we were trying to get them all motivated and pumped up because we were playing a team that we actually thought we were going to beat,” he explained. “We started off a little tender so I brought them over after the first quarter and said, ‘Hey, what’s the matter with you guys? We’re going to win this game. This is going to be our first win and we’re going to celebrate afterwards. This team’s not that good and we can beat them. Everybody bring it in. Pacers on three…’
“And they all looked at me and were like, ‘We’re not the Pacers! We’re the flames. We’re orange! DAD!”
Alexa on dad coaching her soccer team: “It was really great but I think he should stick to basketball.”
As Alexa has moved up to travel soccer, it’s Arianna’s turn to have dad as her soccer coach – coming this fall. “We’re going to do lots of running and there’s going to be lots of yelling, no playing and no fun,” Frank said, and then paused. “She knows I’m kidding.
“No, it’s really just about making sure they’re having fun but it is a sport so you want to teach them the game and teach them how to play hard and how to practice and all those types of things. But it’s definitely about having fun.”
Frank said he will often shoot hoops with his daughters in the yard. Recently, Arianna made so many shots that she turned to him and said ‘Daddy, I think I stole Kevin Durant’s talent,’ referencing the movie Thunderstruck.
“I’m just glad you didn’t steal Paul George’s talent,” Frank said, drawing laughter. “We need him to have that.”