From my latest article at WorldMag.com:
For the next two weeks , you will see more vein-popping, foot-stomping, jaw-jutting, teeth clenching, expectorating, clip-board-chucking temper tantrums from grown men in tailored suits than you care to imagine. The NCAA tournament’s chaotic opening weekend is in full swing, and all the coaches are pouring themselves into these games because when they lose, they go home.
College basketball coaches are an intense bunch with a reputation for obsessive game study and borderline insane work habits. The pressures of high expectations and a collective competitive nature means most will stop at nothing to lead their team to victory. We often don’t get to see the other side of these basketball generals.
In 2010, Fran McCaffery took the head coaching position at the University of Iowa. The team was struggling; in his first season they only won 11 games. In the years since, though, McCaffery has led the Hawkeyes to increasing success, culminating in an appearance in the NCAA tournament this year. Earlier this week, he and the team traveled to Dayton, Ohio, to prepare for Wednesday night’s play-in game versus the University of Tennessee.
But McCaffery and his family faced a greater challenge than a tournament game. On Wednesday morning, game day, his 13-year-old son, Patrick, had surgery in Iowa City to remove a tumor from his thyroid.
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