By Kyle Daubs

In nearly a decade of sports, not everyone has the family dynamic of Troy and Kylie Haacke. 

The father-daughter duo have ridden the ranks of Mattoon sports for many years. From cross country to basketball to track, the MHS senior has been linked to her father coaching right by her side in every sport she has participated.

“It doesn’t feel like it’s been that long,” said Kylie.

This afternoon will be the last time that Kylie will run a course in Coles County with her father as the coach – at the Apollo Conference meet at EIU.

“It’s been wonderful,” said Troy. “I always told Angie that you see people in the stands who wish they could be coaching their kid and I’ve had the opportunity to do that in just about everything she has participated in.”

APOLLO PREVIEW: Expect CHS’s Megan Garrett, Kylie Haacke to battle for Apollo individual title.

Granted, it hasn’t always been sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes, it’s not easy to take constructive criticism, especially when it’s coming from the person you share a home with. 

“Multiple times,” said Kylie. “I’ll sometimes get mad at him over a practice or a meet and I’ll try not to talk to him at home. It usually blows over really quickly, though.”

Even through the ups and downs, receiving the harsh reality from her coach still made it easier to be the “coach’s daughter,” even if she didn’t always feel that way. 

“It helps that my dad doesn’t treat me differently from anyone else,” said Kylie. “He treats me just as hard as everyone else. At practice, you can just tell he’s a coaching figure. At home, we will talk about stuff, but he’s more of a father figure. I don’t really feel like the coach’s daugther.”

Few parents get to coach a child for all four years of high school, perhaps because of the stigma of being a “coach’s kid.” With that in mind, it prompted a discussion before this ever unfolded. 

“We talked a while back and I asked her if she could handle me coaching everything you do,” said Troy. “She said ‘yeah’ and it’s been fun to watch her grow, mature, and get stronger through the years from running to basketball.”

Haacke said finding a balance for giving feedback to his daughter/runner could be challenging. 

“I think I’ve gotten better over the years,” said Troy. “When they are younger, they make more mistakes and there is more to talk about. Sometimes, you have to just bite your tongue. Then, as they mature and figure things out, you just sit back, watch, and you are proud of their accomplishments.”

Kylie has been a two-time state qualifier and a three-time Apollo Conference selection, including finishing as runner-up in 2019. Thus afternoon on the Panther Trails, she will seek her first conference title.

Haacke has done this while running on the toughest courses. Christian County Fairground, Spitler Woods Recreation Area, and Lake of the Woods are not flat lands. These are tough, gritty, areas to run and Haacke managed to run sixth, third, and second at these races. 

“I don’t know if there’s a specific memory, but I will say the harder the course, the better she runs,” said Troy. “At Springfield, there is a monster hill. At conferences the last two years at Mahomet have been tough. The year before that at Mount Zion was tough. She has always excelled when others want to quit. I can’t think of a meet where she hasn’t performed. She’s always been a gamer.”

Finishing all-conference is great and all, but celebrating with your dad who has been along for the ride the whole way was even better. 

“My sophomore year, the course for the conference was so hard and super hilly,” said Kylie. “There’s like an 800-meter hill that never seems to end and you have to run up it twice. I finished all-conference and having my dad there as a coach and as a parent to celebrate was really special.”

Of course, there’s plenty of memories through four years, but not enough space to write about them all. Even if there was, Kylie wouldn’t be able to pick just one. 

“All of it,” said Kylie. “When looking back, it’s all been awesome. When people ask me what’s been my favorite over the last four years, it’s really hard to pick between the team, my mom, and my dad. When I come home from college, it’s going to be really hard not having him as a coach after I graduate.”