Widener blood runs deep in Bowling Green Soccer
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - After returning to the head coaching position, Craig Widener has led the Bowling Green Purples back to the Boys’ Soccer State Tournament. But he isn’t the only Widener on the team this year.
Widener stepped down from the head coaching position for Bowling Green in 2015. His son Braden is a sophomore midfielder and striker and is a big reason why coach Widener decided to come back to coaching.
“The reason I stepped away was my daughter was going to be a freshman in high school, as much as I love coaching I love my kids more,” Widener said. “I was not going to miss out on her stuff for other kids’ stuff. So it was time to step away for a little bit, be a dad for a couple of years and I was fortunate that it opened up at the right time.”
When Braden was moving up into high school, the head coach job opened up at the same time, making it easier for him to move back into that role.
“Oh without a doubt. Yeah, I mean, it’s, you know, I probably would have applied for the position too, anyway,” Widener said. “But, you know, with him being here, without a doubt, it was a was a major reason for the desire to come back.”
The father and son’s shared love for soccer started when Braden was born.
“Since birth, yeah, I grew up playing soccer, and I’ll probably play it till the day I die,” Braden said. “So he grew up coaching me. So I love it. He’s coached me from when I was a little player playing [recreational soccer] to now.”
“It kind of had to because like I said, the first time I did this, he was born in 2006, the first year that we want to [the] state [tournament]. And as he was growing up, I mean, I was coaching club in the offseason and coaching in high school in the high school season,” Craig said. “So if he wanted to hang out with me, it was on a soccer field, he’d come hang out. So he grew up watching Purples soccer, I’ve got pictures of him on the field, when he was two years old, kicking around with his sister all the way up. So he’s been out here the entire time.”
But just as in all parent-child relationships, it’s not always easy.
“I have coached both of my children since they were four years old. And so it’s a practice, you know, it’s, it can be difficult, but you know, unless he asked it unless Braden asked me stuff at home, we really don’t discuss a whole lot. You know, it’s we try to separate it and compartmentalize, I get to be a dad away from the field, and I get to be a coach on the field,” Craig said. “And I think it’s probably a little bit tougher for him. Cuz when I am giving him instructions, oftentimes he hears that coming from dad instead of coach. But, you know, for me, I just tried to allow him to grow up and be his own person. And not only that I’m in school with him every day. I mean, I see him all the time. So, you know, I just try to compartmentalize and make sure I stick to my roles as best I can.”
“I can separate them,” Braden said. “I mean, once we get here, I know that it’s different I don’t we don’t have the same talks here. He has to treat me differently because I’m a player, not his son.”
Coaching Braden has also made Craig a better coach and a better dad,
“[For me], remembering that they are young men, and they’re going to mess up,” Craig said. “And now as my son gets older, you know, I see that every day from him. So that’s helped me understand the rest of the players that they’re kids, they’re going to make mistakes, they’re going to do dumb things. They’re going to show up late, and it’s more important that I help them understand the importance of a reason of being on time and doing their best than it is for me just to get angry and punish them.”
Craig, Braden, and the rest of the Purples look to build on this season of memories and win the 2022 State Tournament.
They will play in the semi-finals on Thursday at Frederick Douglas High School in Lexington.
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