Owen Slagle missed his mother’s return.
That was OK. He was safely back home and in the arms of his grandmother, who was taking care of him.
But as he grows up, Owen is going to spend a lot of time in gyms and spend a lot of time in the stands as he watches his mother, Lindy, take care of another set of kids — her players. His mother is a basketball lifer.
For the first time since Dec. 20, Grapevine’s girls head basketball coach Lindy Slagle was back on the bench. It’s only in a part-time capacity. She gave birth to Owen — her first — on Dec. 29 and had been sidelined ever since. Slagle had to mind district policy and doctor’s orders by staying away from everything connected to this program and the GCISD.
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That was until Friday, when Slagle was given a part-time return. The return didn’t have the storybook ending. Colleyville Heritage won the heated rivalry game, 48-35, to take sole possession of first place in District 8-5A. Grapevine (12-9, 6-1) is in second place.
Still, it was a relief to be back. As much euphoria as Slagle feels for being a mother, there is still the rush of being a basketball coach.
“It was very strange,” Slagle said. “It felt strange getting back into routine. It was just one of those situations where we had to reverse everything we were doing.”
There are strings attached to this return. Slagle can only be around two to four hours every day. She cannot physically go through practices. There is no running. There is no weight lifting. That’s the tough part, because the physical part of coaching is something that she has embraced as long as she has coached.
As for games, she cannot really be the head coach. She can only be on the bench serving as an assistant. Instead of having the big-picture view, Slagle has to go back to the role of being the one who will find the little adjustments and making the suggestions. She can’t be on the team bus. She has to drive herself to games.
Varsity assistant Collin McKinney, who has been running the games since Slagle left, will continue to do so until Slagle’s full-time release, Feb. 13, the date of the bi-district round of the Class 5A playoffs.
“I have to park it [on the bench],” Slagle said. “I did a good job of sitting down. Of course, the motivation of not getting a technical foul helps, too [two coaches can’t stand at the same time during the game]. I am an animated coach. So it’s hard to pace yourself. Physically, I felt good. But the stress of the game is there regardless, because you’re trying to get your team to the playoffs.”
Roles have changed for Grapevine’s basketball season. This is a team that’s dealing with some transition, from the change in the roster to Slagle’s absence to the loss of point guard Samantha Tatum to a broken left wrist.
But that’s what sports is. The best laid-out plans always have to be adjusted when things happen. But Slagle said her staff and her players have handled everything well. For now, this is the new normal.
“The roles are different,” Slagle said. “The best interests of the team always come first. We just wanted to make this as smooth a transition as possible. We didn’t want this to be dramatic with me just showing up.
“I don’t want to affect their routine. I just want to slowly integrate myself back into it all.”