Chris Miles Sports Editor
December 27, 2013
The yells from the sideline are seemingly a little bit louder and a little bit more forceful when directed in the direction of Shekinah Christian sophomore twin brothers Mitchell and Zach Yoder.
They’re instructed to run harder, get back on defense, look for an open teammate, box out and hustle just a little bit more than their teammates. Thus is the life when you’re playing basketball and your father is the coach.
Rod Yoder, the Shekinah Christian boys basketball coach is demanding, intense and expects big things from himself and his players and no one knows that better than his own kids.
“We know how he is so it’s easier for us to get him than our teammates,” Zach said. “It’s fun having him as our coach.”
“I thought it was a good idea for him to coach us because he gets the best out of us,” Mitchell said. “He finds a way to get the best out of all of us.”
Rod Yoder approaches life with a zest and fire that very few can match. He’s energetic, engaging and emotional and those characteristics usually spill over to the basketball court.
If there’s anybody who knows what the Yoder twins are going through it’s their older sister Tori. The 2013 Shekinah Christian graduate, was coached by her dad in basketball all through high school. She said that experience is something that she treasures and wouldn’t trade for anything.
“I loved having him coach me,” Tori said. “I feel like he pushes us harder than the others and I know he yelled at me a lot more than the others. but I know he knew I could handle it and he wanted me to be the best I could be.”
The coach tries to bring out the very best in all the kids he coaches, but he understands that his direct and to the point approach doesn’t always work with everybody, thus the beauty of having his own children as human buffers.
“I do try and treat them like everybody else,” Yoder said of coaching his kids. “But you do gave to use a different angle sometimes. I expect the best out of them. As long as they realize what I’m trying to do, when I’m getting on you and getting into you its because I see something in you that I want to pull it out.
“When I was coaching Tori especially, I wasn’t sure how the other girls would take me, so she was the one I would get on hard because I knew she could take it.”
After Tori’s graduation last spring, the opportunity arose for Yoder to coach the school’s boys team, but before he decided to go after the position he wanted to talk to his kids.
“I asked the boys before the season, ‘Are you sure you want me to coach?’” Yoder said. “I told them I’m gonna be intense and I’m going to get after you. But they were like ‘Yea we want you to coach us.’ As a dad I was pleased and proud that they wanted me to coach them, it’s gotta be harder on them because I use them to get a point across to the others. Not everybody takes somebody that’s intense the same way.”
The Yoder twins take the extra attention from dad in very different ways, Mitchell admits to being more standoffish while Zach is more likely to take it in stride.
“He and I are almost exactly alike,” Mitchell said of his dad. “We butt heads, my sister is a lot like that too, we’re very stubborn.”
“I just listen and I don’t talk as much,” Zach said.
The player-coach relationship takes on a different dynamic when it’s a father and his kids. Things aren’t always cheery and chummy especially after tough losses or after things haven’t gone well on the coach.
“When Tori tore her ligament last year (foot), I was like come on what’s the matter with you? Why aren’t you hustling up and down the floor? And she said my foot hurts, I asked her if she could go and she said yes. Low and behold she played the whole second half with a torn ligament in her foot and was done for the season and had surgery.
“And here I was asking if she was OK with me pushing her and she said she wouldn’t want it any other way. She has the same inner-passion to be a part of the team and do whatever she can to help the team. I love that.”
“I couldn’t really run that well and he was just yelling at me to get up and down the court, he thought I wasn’t hustling. I just turned over to him and yelled ‘I can’t and he then knew I was hurt. But for the most part we don’t argue.’”
Taking the game and its results home could be stressful, but the Yoder’s wouldn’t have it any other way.
“It works well for us,” Mitchell said. “It might not work well for everybody else. But we all love the game and we like it this way.”
“I just like how much he pushes us to be more intense, pushes us to play better,” Zach said. “I feel like I play better when I’m out there and he’s yelling.”
Rod Yoder loves what he does and treasures the time he spends with his kids in the process. Watching them grow and blossom under his watchful eye is something he truly enjoys.
“I’ve always loved kids, loved coaching,” Yoder said “I love interacting with young people and coaching athletics. It’s part of who I am and what I love to do. I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to do it with my kids.
“I love to see the competitiveness come out in them. We want to be sportsmen, want to be Christ-like, but I want them to be intense. I just love competing. Not all children have that in sports. I encourage any kid to find what they’re passionate about and go after it. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.”
Yoder credits his wife Tina for allowing him to do what he loves and admits that she’s just as intense as he is.
“I couldn’t do what I do coaching without her,” he said. “She’s there every game with us. I wouldn’t want to do it without her. She’s with me, it’s the best of both worlds.”