Amy Donaldson: Coach chooses to focus on family after wife's battle with cancer

Published: Sunday, March 23 2014 4:40 p.m. MDT

“I don’t think I’m alone in feeling some guilt,” he said. “There have been times, as balanced as you try to be, that my family has taken a back seat. They’ve never complained.”

But Galley said he’s been bothered that even on vacations or during holidays, he finds himself thinking about his coaching duties.

“It never leaves you,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re on vacation or if it’s moratorium, Christmas Day. I was absolutely terrible at trying to set that aside and totally focus on my family, friends and other things. I almost felt like if I wasn’t constantly engaged with something about my team that would mean I didn’t care.”

The only boys basketball coach that Riverton has had admits that if Stephanie hadn’t had cancer, he’d still be coaching.

“I have not lost any love of coaching,” he said, admitting that the season right after her diagnosis was one of his most rewarding. “There are certainly things about the profession that are irritating and annoying. But I love teaching the game, love being around the players and other coaches."

As he steps away, he remembers something his high school coach told him.

“He said, ‘You might remember some of the scores, you might remember some of the numbers. But if you do then you didn’t do it the right way. What you should remember are the people.”

That’s because most coaches don’t spend most of their lives in a gym because they want better stats or more accolades. High school coaches work long hours for little or nothing so they can help young people discover the best in themselves.

They watch immature hotshots evolve into caring, selfless leaders through dedication and hard work. They watch children who just want to play games or earn praise find joy in grueling effort that no one else ever sees.

And they watch teens learning to work together, learning to value differences and learning to rely on others through the lessons offered on a basketball court.

For these coaches, it isn’t about the scores at all. And luckily someone pointed that to Galley long before he ever ran his own program.

“It’s kind of a silly game, this taking a ball and trying to put it in a metal ring,” he said. “But it’s not even about that. It’s about the people.”

And right now, he needs to shift the bulk of his time and attention to those who've sacrificed for the players he's coached.

“To me, it’s all about time now,” he said. “I just have a completely different view of what time is and how I want to spend it, and the people I really need to spend it with.”

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EMAIL: adonaldson@deseretnews.com