FAMILY TIES WITH A SHADE OF GREENE ; Dad, Son Close despite Coaching Rival Teams

By Ryan, Rick | Charleston Gazette Mail, January 20, 2017 | Go to article overview

FAMILY TIES WITH A SHADE OF GREENE ; Dad, Son Close despite Coaching Rival Teams


Ryan, Rick, Charleston Gazette Mail


Matt Greene doesn't quite understand some people's reactions when he takes his Capital squad against George Washington, much like he did last Friday in front of a packed house at Capital High School. GW, of course, is perhaps Capital's biggest rival and is led by Rick Greene, the Patriots' longtime coach ... who just happens to be his father.

"People say to me all the time, "You must really want to win that game,' " Matt Greene said. "Hey, I want to win every game just as much. I don't want to beat that team any more just because my dad is sitting on the bench over there. People want it to be about dad."

The Greene families of the Kanawha Valley have dealt with a unique situation - split loyalties - the past two seasons, ever since Matt took over for Carl Clark as Capital's basketball coach last winter, giving up his position as an assistant men's coach on Bryan Poore's staff at West Virginia State.

Capital and GW, city of Charleston rivals in all sports, certainly can't duck each other, as they're scheduled to play at least twice this season competing in the Mountain State Athletic Conference East division. They'll most likely end up colliding a third time in Class AAA's Region 3 Section 1 event during postseason play.

It makes for a difficult dynamic on the days when their teams tangle, like last Friday when Capital held off GW for a thrilling 73- 72 victory in a matchup of top-ranked teams.

Outside of those games, however, they still get along quite well and seem to maintain a typical father-son relationship - even with the backdrop of working at competing programs in the same town.

"We talk a lot - daily almost, said Rick Greene, 63, who's in his 23rd season as GW's coach. "It's rare when we don't talk once or twice a day. I don't think it's anything that's planned, and I don't think he tries to avoid me. I even talked to him a couple of times [the day before last Friday's game]. We do pretty much whatever we need to do.

Obviously, some things have had to change in their conversations since the days in the late 1990s when Matt played for his father at GW, or since 2004, when Matt began his career as a college assistant coach at West Virginia State and Glenville State.

Back then, it wouldn't have been unusual for one to pass along a new inbound play, or to chat about a scouting report on an upcoming opponent.

"They're typical conversations, Matt Greene said of what's discussed now. "The main way the relationship has changed is we really don't talk X's and O's as much any more. We used to talk about those things a lot. Plays that might work for each other, things you're thinking about doing, passing them along to each other. We don't do that as much. We stay away from the strategy part. When we talk, it's general conversations - how's the family doing?

Rick Greene, for one, misses those talks they used to have about game-planning.

"That's one thing I do miss, he said, "but I totally understand it. We talked a lot more basketball when he was with Coach Poore. We still talk basketball, but it's a little more general and there's a line you can't [cross]. You can't get into too much [detail]. Obviously, I miss that. It's not quite as free with the give and take when you're talking basketball, but it's very natural.

Rick Greene admits that their situation, especially when it's head to head like last week's game, can elicit some unusual emotions while going against his 37-year-old son.

"It's just difficult to play them, he said. "It's a different emotion. He and I are always fine with it. It's always father and son before anything else. It's just a really different emotion.

"You never quit being a dad. A dad's supposed to protect and watch over his kids and keep them out of bad situations. And in athletics, it's trying to make your opponents miserable. It's a balance in a sense, mentally, but once the game gets going, you're [less] around as a dad, and if nothing else but out of respect for him, you're trying to beat them. …

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