New Dad Diaries – Week 23: The Father Hood – Carey Casey (part 1)




Chronicling life as a new father to his beautiful firstborn child – daughter Thea – Chris Kerr’s goal is to provide all men experiencing fatherhood for the first time with some invaluable tips and tricks as they are learned – the hard way. Acknowledging he needs help too(!), Chris has called on a group of dads he calls, ‘The Father Hood’ to ask them for their tips and wisdom.  In this edition, Chris sits down with the legendary Carey Casey, founder of Championship Fathering and author of the excellent book of the same name.

“Please go to sleep now Thea. I am meeting Carey Casey tomorrow and I need to be at my best”. If she had known who Carey was, she would have obliged. Alas it didn’t work and so I showed up to the interview exhausted and barely functioning. Within five minutes of meeting him though, I was full of energy and inspired. He’s that kind of character. Humble, oozing kindness and compassion and just a force of nature for those God has placed in his care – dads.  Here’s Part 1 of my discussion with him:  

Pastor Carey, in your book, Championship Fathering, you share lots of stories about your own father. What made him such a great dad?   

So, I am going to start by saying this to your readers: There are no perfect dads. So, you can just relax!  

My dad was a good dad. He becomes greater as the years go by. I hear his voice when I am sitting on planes, when I sit in my study, when I prepare for talks. He had such a great impact on me when he was alive, that his principles live on in me to this day.  

That is the case because he was present. He spent time with me. I lost count of how many times my father said, “Boys, let’s go for a drive.” It took me a while to catch on to what he was up to but it wasn’t really about the drive! Pop was creating a captive audience in the car, where he could teach us on something he’d been thinking about. There would never be a big announcement or anything, and he wouldn’t even change the tone of his voice. He’d just say things like, “You know boys, it would break my heart if I ever heard that you hurt a young lady in any way”. 

These conversations impacted me in a huge way, and so even though he is no longer with us, and I miss him greatly, he is still shaping my life. That’s great fathering.   

Could you give us an example of how your dad impacted your life?   

Have you ever seen the film Remember the Titans starring Denzel Washington?  It’s based on a true story, and in real life, I was on the team that lost to the Titans in the State Championship game. I was 16 at the time, and after this I would go on to play all-state-all-American, a really prestigious level of football. I ended up playing for Coach Boon, who was portrayed by Denzel Washington in the film, in the All-Star Game. 

I would never have made it there if it wasn’t for my dad. There was one point during High School were I nearly quit altogether. I had developed a bit of attitude and one day my coach got in my face about something. The coach was a white man, and all my African American buddies were telling me to quit the team. We all thought that the way he was treating me must mean he was racist.   

I agreed, so I went home spitting venom and shared my plan to quit with my father. Dad listened until I had got it all out of my system and then he shook his head and said: “Son, you are a great player but you are a sophomore.  Your coach is checking out your character. That man is a good coach. He’s going to win games with or without you. He doesn’t need you.  ou need that team more than he needs you.”   

He then said, “If you are going to lead the orchestra, you are going to have to turn your back on the crowd.” 

So, I went back, and guess what – he was right. Pop saw the big picture and because of that, I stayed on the team, I improved and he gave me more playing time. Eventually, I got a scholarship and played in college – where I met my bride! 

A present dad, who invests in his son, can literally change his trajectory in one conversation.  

Your Dad also helped you through some tough times as well, right?  

Yeah, he did. My dream was to play the National Football League (NFL) and I was on the fast track to getting there. I was told I was going to be a great player who would end up in the Hall of Fame. And then all of a sudden, I injured my knee and doctors were telling me I would never play again.   

So, I was lying down in my dorm room at University and I called my Dad, crying down the phone.  And I said, “Dad, I’m sorry”.  I was apologising for my injury because in my mind, I am Carey Casey the American football player, and that’s my identity. My dad turns around and says, “Son, I always wanted you to play baseball.”  

And then he laughed!  I was thinking, ‘Dad, what are you saying?!’ This is a serious moment!  But he said, “Son, Daddy loves you whether you play football or not. Your mother and I love you.”   

Then I got a letter from my Pastor who tells me that God is in control of my life, whether I play ball or not. The most important people in my life gave me the most important message. I was loved by them, and by God.  

Nowadays, my friends – many of whom are in the Hall of Fame – tell me that they trust God, and that they love their families because they saw how I functioned in a time of crisis.   

Carey Casey has been a tireless advocate for dads, children and families for decades, including sitting on the White House Task Force on Fatherhood and Healthy Families under Barak Obama.  Carey was also the CEO of the National Center for Fathering, a non-profit organisation established in 1990 to encourage and equip men in their role as fathers and father-figures. Carey has been married for 45 years to his wife, the wonderful Melanie, and has four children and six grandchildren. 

Join us for Part 2 as Carey discusses his key principles for fathering, along with some more incredible stories from his life.   

Chris Kerr

Chris is a husband to Alicia and father to Thea, who is the subject of his columns on Fatherhood for Sorted.  In his spare time he works for a national law firm in an executive capacity and provides crisis leadership consultancy support for non-profits across the UK.  He attends Urban Crofters Church in Cardiff.  A keen weekend adventurer, Chris is regularly spotted in the sea or on mountains.

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