Lori Riley: A True Basketball Family


On Monday morning, Brian Mik will get up with his three children. He will help the two older kids get ready for school and put them on the bus.

His wife, Sarah, will already be at Cheshire High School, where she teaches physical education. Brian will bring little 4-year-old Grace to day care or to his parents' house. Then he'll head off to the University of Hartford, where he is an assistant women's basketball coach.

Sarah, who coaches the Cheshire High girls basketball team, usually has practice Monday afternoons. There is a babysitter who gets the kids off the bus. Sarah picks up Grace after practice and is home at 5 p.m.

Tuesday and Friday nights are generally game nights for Sarah. Brian could be at a Hartford game or he could be on the road with the Hawks or he could be out recruiting. If he's not, he will go to Sarah's games with the kids, usually Friday nights, so the kids aren't out late on a school night.

"Like" explorecarroll on Facebook

Oh, and both 9-year-old Brianna and 7-year-old Drew play basketball, too. And Sarah coaches both teams. And Brianna dances.

Welcome to basketball season in the Mik household.

"Basketball swallows our life up pretty much from November to March," Brian said Wednesday night. "But it's fun."

Sarah, 41, and Brian, 40, met when he was the JV coach at Lyman Hall in Wallingford and she was the freshman coach at Cheshire. The head coaches were friends and Sarah and Brian would go out with them. They were married in 2000.

"We've been doing it for so long," said Sarah, who played high school basketball at Mercy and college basketball at Merrimack. "Once the kids rolled around, I had to think, 'Do I stick with the coaching?'

"I was coaching softball, so I decided to give that up. Then the head [basketball] job opened up after Drew was born. I was teaching in the school. I was an assistant. I figured if I didn't go for it, I'd second-guess myself. We have a lot of support."

Brian's parents are nearby. Sarah's parents travel from Florida often to visit. There are nieces and siblings and neighbors and babysitters.

"Family's a huge thing," Brian said. "I don't know if we'd be able to do it.

"Right now, it's crazy. Crazy in a good way. I'm out two, three nights recruiting, she's got two games a week. It's always, 'Hey, can you watch these guys for a few hours and I'll come pick them up?'"

Drew got to go to Dartmouth for Hartford's Dec. 9 game with his dad. He sat behind the bench with Holden, the son of coach Jen Rizzotti and her husband, assistant Bill Sullivan.

"He knows all the players," Brian said. "He'll go to the back of the bus and sit with one of them with their gadgets they have. It's good. They were fighting which one could go last weekend. Drew won."

"They are gym rats," Sarah said.

Before the season starts, Brian will bring home a big calendar and they mark it up. Hartford practices and games, Cheshire practices and games, the kids' practices and games.

"I think it takes a certain personality," Sarah said. "You've got to go with the flow. We're not stressful people. We stay organized. It works."

There are many husband and wife coaching duos but not a whole lot coach the same sport in the same season.

Some women stop coaching once they have children, finding the time demands too much. These days, more and more men coach girls high school sports — especially soccer, softball and basketball. Not that that's a bad thing, but it's good for girls to have female role models, too.

"I think it's great," Brian said. "What she does is amazing. My job is obviously crazy and there's a lot of stuff to do in the season. For her to coach high school basketball and come home and take Brianna to dance, or Drew to basketball, it's great. To stay involved at that high school level, the kids see it, it's wonderful."

"I always said I would coach until they got old enough to get involved and I wouldn't want to miss anything," said Sarah, whose Cheshire High team is 2-1. "I think because I teach during the day, this is my little outlet. Some women shop, work out. This is my three hours a day of having fun. It keeps me young. The high school kids are great.

"If you love something enough, you find a way to make it work, as long as it's for the good of everybody. I'll keep doing it until it's a strain. They're young enough, so they kind of go with the flow right now."