Dalton Cozart dribbled down the court on the fastbreak. He was then called for traveling.
“Hey, you’re all right,” his dad called out.
His dad also happens to be his coach.
Some parents coach their kids in the early years. Athens High School coach Mickey Cozart has been coaching his son since birth all the way through his varsity basketball days.
“Dalton’s been dribbling a basketball since when he could walk,” Mickey said.
During a game, however, Mickey treats Dalton like any other player.
Well, he may just be a little harder on Dalton.
“If he messes up, he gets lit up like anybody else,” Mickey said. “I don’t treat him any differently here than anybody else, outside of maybe being a little tough on him.”
* * *
When Dalton scored 22 points in the Bulldogs first playoff game, winning the sectional championship against Sheridan 58-57 this past Friday night, Mickey knew his son had played a big part in his team’s win.
“No. 20 out there had a huge game,” Mickey said with a smile.
Athens has been led by senior Griffin Lutz all season and has been a key player in his entire Bulldog career. After this season, however, the Bulldogs will need somebody to step up in Lutz’s place.
“Life in Athens without Griffin Lutz, it’s coming,” Mickey said.
Dalton, a junior and current captain, will be the prime candidate for that role, as shown by his performance in Athens’ first playoff game.
"Dalton is our second place scorer now," Mickey said. "Dalton is going to score, it's kind of what he does."
* * *
Mickey faces the challenge of being a coach and a parent at the same time.
The two don’t discuss basketball at home, according to Mickey.
“There’s got to be a time to shut that off,” he said.
When the two do discuss basketball off the court, it is normally about the development of Dalton as a player.
“He gets on me a lot,” Dalton said. “It’s all right though, he’s just trying to get the best out of me.”
Mickey sees a little bit of what he was as a player in Dalton, except Dalton is a better shooter and ball handler, according to Mickey. Mickey said that he was better defensively, however.
"He's his own guy," Mickey said. "He's better than I was."
When the roles of being a coach and a parent merge for Mickey, it becomes really challenging.
“It’s not exactly fair to him,” Mickey said. “As the dad, I know every aspect of his game. So if he doesn’t fulfill that, I know whereas somebody else might not know. I know his capabilities, he gets the brunt end of a lot of stuff.”
For Dalton, playing for his dad can be a little weird at times and it may seem like it could be weird for other players too.
Most of the players don’t think about it, however.
Watching the two of them interact as father and son, and as player and coach is fun, at least according to Logan Maxfield.
So when it comes to the dynamic of a son playing for his dad, who has it harder?
“It’s hard for him,” Mickey said. “It’s not hard for me.”