In his new memoir, A Promised Land, former president Barack Obama details the short coaching career he had in 2010 during his first term as president.
Obama is known as a lover of basketball, and at first, he and former first lady Michelle Obama used to simply attend their youngest daughter’s basketball games.
Obama says they would shout the usual “get back on defense” or “good job” to then-fourth grader Sasha.
Eventually though, he got out of the stands and with the help of his aide and former Duke University standout, Reggie Love, he began coaching.
“After observing an adorable, but chaotic, first couple of games, Reggie and I took it upon ourselves to draw up some plays and volunteered to conduct a few informal Sunday afternoon practice sessions with the team. We worked on the basics: dribbling, passing, making sure your shoelaces were tied before you ran onto the court.
“And although Reggie could get a little too intense when we ran drills –– 'Paige, don’t let Isabel punk you like that’–– the girls seemed to have as much fun as we did.”
The Sidwell Friends School Vipers won the league championship in an intense game that ended in an 18-16 score. Both Obama and Love “celebrated like it was the NCAA finals.”
Obama goes on to share how much more important the “normal dad stuff” was to him since he wasn’t always able to be present.
The time he spent coaching his daughter’s team, which also included President-elect Joe Biden’s granddaughter Maisy, took a dramatic turn.
“But of course nothing about our lives was completely normal anymore as I was reminded the following year, when, in true Washington fashion a few of the parents from a rival Sidwell team started complaining to the Vipers coaches and presumably the school that Reggie and I weren’t offering training sessions to their kids, too.
“We explained that there was nothing special about our practices. That it was just an excuse for me to spend extra time with Sasha. And we offered to help other parents organize practices of their own.”
Reggie, according to the former president, speculated that the parents’ complaints went beyond claims of unequal coaching, saying, “they must think being coached by you is something they can put on a Harvard application.”
The coaches felt torn by the situation and eventually Obama decided to return to the stands to make it “simpler for all concerned.”
His coaching career, though short-lived, is another personal memory the former president shared in his new memoir that talks about his two terms in office and balancing it all.
Photos: Getty Images