Shelby Valley and Cassidy Rowe were playing great this summer.
The Lady Wildcats kicked off summer basketball last week and were hitting on all cylinders.
Cassidy Rowe was just coming back from an ACL injury after missing just about all season.
Then a couple of days into summer basketball — it happened again. She tore her other ACL.
After her injury is when she needs her father.
Her father Lonnie “Doe Doe” Rowe is her head coach.
He has coached her her whole life.
As Father’s Day approaches, the two are thinking of her recovery instead of summer basketball.
“We have always been close, but the game of basketball has brought us closer than either of us could’ve ever imagined,” Doe Doe Rowe said. “The relationship we have isn’t just father and daughter or coach and player, it’s also a friendship that goes way beyond that. The things that we talk about outside of basketball, the things that we talk about on the court, are things that we can relate to each other in a positive manner. She knows that I trust her and I feel like she trusts me.”
“I’m really just lucky to be so close to him,” Cassidy Rowe said. “I think basketball has brought us closer together. Ever since I was really little, we always went to the gym together. That’s something that’s our thing. Every single day we go to the gym together and it’s really such a blessing.”
Cassidy Rowe will have plenty of support during her second recovery process. She thinks of her teammates as family.
“It’s been amazing because all of those girls who have played with Cass (Rowe) have been like her sisters,” Doe Doe Rowe said. “Matter of fact, we’re getting ready to play a basketball game and when the game is over, they’re all going out to eat at Applebee’s. They feel like they’re family. You see a lot of kids moving around from school to school, I don’t think they can have those relationships with their kids. I’m not putting any kid down because that’s their decision. Right now, we have nothing, but Shelby Valley kids and they’re family. If one hurts, they all hurt.”
Last summer, Cassidy Rowe tore her right ACL. She worked hard to make a comeback. She played in the 15th Region semifinals against Johnson Central, but the Lady Wildcats fell 47-46.
“She did take a lot of pressure off of her teammates,” Doe Doe Rowe said. “When she’s out on the court it allows the rest of the players to go back to their natural positions. When she did come back, she pushed herself extremely hard. A lot of people don’t realize how proud Cassidy (Rowe) is to be a Shelby Valley Wildcat. She wanted to come back and help Shelby Valley win a regional title. She pushed probably harder than I have ever saw her just so she could play. It was a tough decision to let her play in the region tournament. Here I am, I’m a dad and I’m a coach, it was really tough. She sat down and had a long talk with me. I made a deal with her and a lot of people won’t believe this, but she was allowed to play in the regional semifinals and that was it. It was a back-to-back night and we were not letting her play back-to-back nights. We really enjoyed watching her play even though she was no where near 100 percent. She went out and played for her teammates and she missed the shot at the end, but instead of everybody being down, they went straight to Cassidy (Rowe). They knew you were the one we wanted with the basketball and to have the shot.”
“I made it hard on him,” Cassidy Rowe said. “When I got hurt, he encouraged me and was always there for rehab and stuff. Once the season came around, I begged him every single night to play and I’m sure it made it really hard on him. I was begging him every night, but he did what he thought was best for me.”
Cassidy Rowe was offered a scholarship with the University of Kentucky last summer. She has already committed to UK.
“She makes me very proud,” Doe Doe Rowe said. “She was mature enough to say, ‘I’ve got the offer that I want and I want to go ahead and let them know that I want to be there. The maturity level speaks volumes for that. She had the opportunity when she did make that commitment to look at other schools. Other schools wanted to get involved in the recruiting process and they were Power 5 schools. Like she said, ‘If you get asked to the prom by your dream date, you don’t wait for somebody else to ask you.’”
During the game, Doe Doe Rowe is Cassidy Rowe’s coach. After the game, he is her father.
“It’s something as a coach you have to do because she is a player and I’m the coach,” Doe Doe Rowe said. “When we’re done with that, then I become a dad and not a critic. A lot of people become a critic. I’m not a critic. We don’t talk about basketball after the game.”
“He’s definitely harder on me than everybody else,” Cassidy Rowe said. “I’m lucky to have him motivate me and encourage me.”
Doe Doe Rowe first started coaching Cassidy Rowe in grade school. The two along with the rest of her teammates, won the middle school state title during her seventh-grade season.
“Over the years even when she first started, I thought she was going to be a good player,” Doe Doe Rowe said. “With the drive and passion she’s shown over the years since then has been amazing to me. She’s never been satisfied with being another kid. She wants to get better and better. She’s always watching videos and comes to me and says, ‘I want to do this.’ Then we go to the gym and work on things that I think she might have trouble doing and she works until she gets it down. It’s been a lot of fun to watch her progress as a player and even more to watch her progress as a person. She’s matured and become that leader that I need.”
Cassidy Rowe is a true point guard. She runs the offense and is an extension of her head coach.
“You have a lot of kids who are point guards who do a really good job, but you have very few point guards who study the game,” Doe Doe Rowe said. “Cassidy (Rowe) is one of those kids who studies the game. After a game, she isn’t satisfied. She isn’t satisfied win or lose. She is always like, ‘What did I do wrong?’ She wants to fix what she did wrong and improve on what she did right. It’s a lot of fun during ball games. A lot of times, I’ll sit back when I should call a timeout and I’ll just let her play. And most of the time, she makes the right play.”
“It’s really awesome,” Cassidy Rowe said. “He’s a great coach. He brings me to the gym everyday and he shows me drills and stuff. He’s just a really great coach and I’m blessed to be able to play for him.”
Basketball is a tradition in the Rowe family. Rodney Rowe, Doe Doe’s brother and Cassidy’s uncle was the former girls’ basketball coach before Doe Doe Rowe took over.
“We figured the other day, since Shelby Valley opened up, there has been a Rowe either playing or coaching on the sidelines every year, but two,” Doe Doe Rowe said. “When you say the Rowe family, you think of basketball. Even though my oldest son played football and he was really good at it and my other son played soccer, basketball is synonymous with the name Rowe. It has given us a lot of tears and a lot of joy. It’s something that I wouldn’t trade for nothing. We got three years left with my daughter and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
Cassidy Rowe is recovering from another ACL tear.
Her coach will be in her corner when she gets back, but her dad is beside her rooting her on and there for her during this recovery process.
“It really makes my job easier,” Cassidy Rowe said. “He is a great coach, but he is an even better dad. He is always encouraging me and motivating me. He always wants what’s best for me. I’m really blessed to have him.”
Sports Editor’s Note: Cassidy Rowe tore her right ACL two days after this interview. The News-Express would like to wish her a healthy recovery. This is the first of three Father’s Day features this week. To see the full interview check out episode 34 of the Bank On It podcast.