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From the Bench: Family, BHS Lost Creek Reunion as Jeff Hathaway on Son Brett's Hawks' Coaching Staff

By Jeff Toquinto on September 12, 2021 from Sports Blog via Connect-Bridgeport.com

It is far from unusual for a father to take his children to sporting events he is attending. It is even not too unusual for a father to have his children with him if he is actually coaching those same sporting events.
 
Count Jeff Hathaway as part of that mix. The life-long Bridgeport resident would take his boys B.R. and Brett with him when he was coaching youth sports decades ago. In particular, he remembered something unique about his youngest Brett when he was five years old.
 
“Before he was old enough to play Brett would come to practice and games with me, and I still remember vividly what took place at one of the first games I took him too,” said Jeff. “Both of the boys were on the sidelines with me, and I look over at Brett just squatting and watching.
 
“He didn’t play or run around; he was paying attention. It reminded of back in my younger days when Coach O.D. Williams would squat and watch for what seemed like hours,” he continued. “The other thing that I remember, which is pretty unique, the first time I saw that was against South Harrison.”
 
The reason it was unique is Brett Hathaway is the new coach of South Harrison High School’s football program. Even more unique is that Brett now has his father coaching with him. Jeff Hathaway was the last hire to the new South Harrison coach’s staff.
 
It all became possible when BHS opted to go in a new direction with the freshman football program. Instead of just being at Brett’s games as a spectator on Friday nights, Jeff Hathaway had the ability to be involved on a day-to-day basis if needed.
 
As it turns out, he was.
 
“He didn’t come on board until we were into August. There wasn’t an opening until a few days into August and when it came up for bid, we were already hitting and into the season so there wasn’t going to be a lot of time for the new coach to get familiar with what we were doing,” Brett said.
 
With his father available and then applying and getting approved for the position, the issue of familiarity proved not to be much of an issue.
 
“It made the transition easy. I knew we would likely be on the same page as far as implementing offense and defense,” said Brett. “It’s worked out well how it played out.”
 
Now, the first coach Brett Hathaway ever had on the football field is now on his first-ever coaching staff. The fact is not lost on either.
 
“He was my coach with the Bridgeport Pee Wee White team and, to be honest, it just felt normal,” said Brett. “Maybe it was because I was getting coached in every aspect of life from him, and football was just another part of it. For whatever reason, it never felt different playing for him.
 
“When I was in high school, he was still coaching the freshman team and even though he stayed away from practices he would watch,” he continued. “On Friday nights he would be helping with the varsity, but we had so many good coaches at Bridgeport there wasn’t too much of a need for him to coach me up too much. At the same time, it was always comforting to see him there.”
 
Jeff feels the same way.
 
“It is definitely special for me, especially to be involved with his first year as a head coach. I really kind of wanted to step back, you know, stay in the background and watch from a distance,” Jeff, who hasn’t missed a Hawks game in the three years Brett served as an assistant, said. “But he was caught shorthanded with coaches and in need of somebody. When he needed help, I asked if I could provide that help and he said it would be awesome. So far, he’s right. It’s just been a fantastic experience because it’s hard to imagine two coaches who know one another better.”
 
Bridgeport has provided another coach Hathaway knows pretty well. In fact, it is a coach just about everyone in the city knows about, but primarily because he has won 9 state baseball championships and seven in a row – SHHS assistant football Coach Robert Shields.
 
“He never coached me in football, but Robert was my freshman basketball and baseball coach,” said Hathaway. “What’s odd, and in a good way, is even though I had never worked with him as a football coach when I played, we always talked about it. He’s also pretty much on the same page with me when it comes to philosophy so it’s also a good fit.”
 
The perfect fit, though, is always a father and a son. In this case, it just happens to be on the football field.
 
“I feel it’s such a unique thing. I feel blessed that it’s getting to happen to me,” Jeff said. “As long as he needs me, I’ll be there.”
 
Sounds like a dedicated coach, and a dedicated father. And Brett, well, he sounds like a good coach and a good son as well.
 
“I don’t give him a hard time about me being the head coach and him being the assistant, but he wanted to make it clear that I’m his boss and I understand why he did that,” said Brett. “I understand I have to make the final decision, but any good coaching staff needs a good group of collective minds that shape those decisions and I feel I have that. We’re hoping for good things here at South Harrison and I’m going to take a lot of what I learned from my father and at Bridgeport to see how it works.”
 
Editor's Note: Top photo shows Brett Hathaway, left, with his father Jeff at a South Harrison practice. Jeff Hathaway is shown in the second photo when he assisted the varsity on Friday nights, while the bottom photo shows Brett coaching last year for South Harrison. Final photo by Ben Queen Photography.


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