Putting Passion In The Game Plan For Family And Football

. August 31, 2019.
UM quarterbacks coach Ben McDaniels with his family: wife, Kyle; and children, Kinley Grace, 6; and Brooks Thomas, 3. While football looms large in the McDaniels household, the kids are busy just being kids. McDaniels said Kinley loves cheer, dance and gymnastics, while Brooks is into trucks, wrestling and pretending he has superpowers. Photo by Aaron Bills/Michigan Football.
UM quarterbacks coach Ben McDaniels with his family: wife, Kyle; and children, Kinley Grace, 6; and Brooks Thomas, 3. While football looms large in the McDaniels household, the kids are busy just being kids. McDaniels said Kinley loves cheer, dance and gymnastics, while Brooks is into trucks, wrestling and pretending he has superpowers. Photo by Aaron Bills/Michigan Football.

When it comes to family and career, University of Michigan quarterbacks coach Ben McDaniels remains dedicated and gives his all to both roles.

“Loving your family and also loving your profession is as good as it gets,” said the 39-year-old Ohio native. The job is demanding and the workload is cyclical— governed by the football’s seasonal flow— recruiting, planning, practices and games.

In the off season, he will usually be in the office by 7 a.m. most weekdays and home by dinner time to see his wife, Kyle, and their children, Kinley, 6; and Brooks, 3. During heavy recruiting in January and May, spring practice and in-season in the fall, the hours get longer. “Everyday is definitely unique,” Coach McDaniels said.

How will you carve out family time in season?
When there’s time to be ‘Dad’, I try to maximize that time. They love “daddy-daughter time” and “guys night” when we go get pizza or ice cream and play video games.

Fridays are usually very family friendly in season. I typically take my daughter to school and I’ll take my son to preschool this year. Saturday home game days are great. The earlier the game is, the sooner I’m home to see my family after the game. Before games, I’ll search Kyle out on the sidelines before she goes up to her seat.

What role does Kyle play in balancing family life?
She’s independent, versatile, tough and smart. There’s a significant amount of time that she is with the kids without me, but she has an amazing ability to manage the things that life presents every family. Her ability to do all those things well allows me to do my job really well so I’m always thankful for her.

What’s it like for the kids to visit dad at the office?
I am fortunate that my family is very welcome at my workplace and when they get a chance to stop and see me, it means a lot.
A football office isn’t a typical office in that there are multiple football fields to run around and play on, a weight room, the dummies and the equipment. Just being in dad’s office and writing on the white board is fun for the kids, and my 3-year-old loves the laser clicker.

Coming from a coaching family, how has that informed you in the way you that you approach life?
My dad (Thom McDaniels) was a high school head coach my whole life. He worked hard and I saw that. I’ve learned that it’s okay to give all you’ve got to being great at what you do, and at being a dad and husband too.

For kids of coaches, there are a lot of experiences throughout the year that are pretty fun and rare. My kids are getting a lot of benefit from the life that we live. They will experience game day in a way that most kids don’t get to experience it, like getting to be on the sidelines before the game or running on the field after the game. The football environment has great energy and atmosphere.

What parts of being a coach and dad are most challenging and rewarding?
The challenge is in the competition to be great at what you do. Wrapping that into family life is just being home and the feeling that someone else is progressing and then chasing yourself back to the office. The rewarding part is the players realizing success, helping shape their lives and their football careers at whatever level you coach. Winning together as a team, as a staff, as players, as coaches, as families—there’s nothing like that.

Has being a father and husband informed the way you coach?
Just being a dad gives you perspective in life. Your perspective drives your attitude toward everything you’re doing in life, in how you coach or how you interact with players or people.

What do you hope your kids learn from you as they grow up?
I hope they learn it’s okay to work hard and that you’re going to have to work hard to be great at whatever it is that you want to do. I want them to also learn that their dad loves them and that’s never in question.

Who do you most admire and why?
My dad, because I’ve grown into doing what he did in living the coaching life. He was a great football coach, teacher and motivator and he was a great dad and husband too. He’s retired now, but you never stop being a coach.

Get to know Ben McDaniels

Favorite local family activities? The parks and other outdoor aspects of Ann Arbor, including canoeing at Gallup Park.

Favorite area restaurants? We love Aubree’s and Maiz in Depot Town; and the Black Pearl and Aventura in downtown Ann Arbor.

Favorite ice cream spot? Cream and Crumb Coffee Station in Depot Town.