“I shaved nearly 20 minutes off my time from 2009,” said marathoner, Anthony Caso. “It’s probably a result of good coaching,” joked John McEnroe, as he was reunited with Caso, one of the six runners on his Dove Men+Care Deodorant Real Men Marathon team. Tennis stud and well known confrontational specialist, John McEnroe, was brought on as the team’s “anti-irritation coach” to impart tips and wisdom from his own personal “triumph over irritation.”
Standing on the sidelines and cheering on the runners at the annual NYC Marathon is a tradition for my personal family. We bundle up, drink hot chocolate, and stand equipped with noisy cow-bells and clackers. It’s so inspirational to watch the runners stride past with their names proudly painted on their shirts and complete this amazing test of endurance.
I was thrilled to meet some of the marathoners on the team that Dove Men+Care assembled to hear their inspirational stories, challenges they’ve overcome, and about being parents.
One of the team members, Anthony Caso, a father of two boys – ages 2 and 4, said, “I ride my bike and run marathons to show my sons that playing doesn’t stop when we grow up.”
That’s a wonderful message to live by!
Tennis was a tremendous part of my childhood and continues to play an important role in my life. Therefore, it was an absolute honor to talk with one of my childhood idols, Johnny Mac, the team’s “anti-irritation coach.” We discussed his role as marathon coach, being a parent, and tennis. Here’s some of the highlights from our interview:
“Coaching the Dove Men+Care marathon team was much easier than winning a Grand Slam Tennis Tournament,” McEnroe joked as we settled into our interview.
NYC Dads Group: You’re the Dove Men+Care “anti-irritation coach.” It’s an unusual title. Please explain what it all means?
John McEnroe: The idea of Dove Men+Care’s Deodorant is to help all men end everyday irritation and so there was a natural connection based on my past history on the tennis court with irritation, in a semi-comical fun way. Plus, I’m from NYC, live close to the finish line, and after the challenges we’ve endured with (Storm Sandy’s) cancellation of the marathon last year and with the Boston tragedy, this coaching job had an added significance and was a great fit for me personally.
NYC Dads Group: Have you ever run a marathon?
John McEnroe: Thankfully, not.
NYC Dads Group: You’ve got a well-known history for being confrontational on the court and for temper flare-ups. Our audience is parents, what advice can you offer parents out there who are faced with moments “when they’ve had it?”
John McEnroe: There is nothing comparable to being a parent…a totally different animal to a coach telling you how to act while your playing tennis against an opponent.
I’ve got six kids through two marriages and that has actually given me a lot more patience. It’s changed me quite a bit, for the better. You’re responsible for this person and set a good example. In retrospect, parents make lots of mistakes – it’s important to reflect and learn from them to be better. My key is always to be there for my kids on a consistent basis and to love my kids.
NYC Dads Group: As the Dove Men+Care “anti-irritation coach,” what kind of wisdom did you impart to your dynamic team of marathon runners?
John McEnroe: Running marathons and playing tennis is different. I realize I’m not an expert on long distance running, but I gave these men some advice on staying loose as they geared up for the big race. Making sure they got a good night’s rest, although that’s easier said than done. Also, we talked about when you hit that proverbial wall…trying to compartmentalize the race in smaller parts, notching each part off the belt so you attain small victories(like I just finished this one mile)as you’re on the path to that light at the end of the tunnel.
John McEnroe: Yes, tennis being a part of their lives was important. It’s not something I was going to push my kids towards, but it was my hope that all of them would know how to play.
Expectations are very high when one of your parents is a successful athlete, and immediately as soon as they would walk out on a court, questions would arise: “will you be as a good as your father?” and “how are they are going to react to the chair umpire?” so having that shadow would be challenging and they’d have to be very thick skinned. Several of my children played competitive High School tennis and enjoy tennis, but never took it too seriously to compete beyond that level, and it’s probably better that way.
NYC Dads Group: What are your favorite things to do together with your family?
John McEnroe: I love to be able take my kids to a sporting event like a NY Knicks game or a NY Jets game because I’m a big sports fan. Living in New York, we have a lot of options, seeing a great play, or art show, or play music together with my kids. Additionally, I really enjoy the basic things like having everyone together at the dinner table and having great conversations with my kids.
After spending the afternoon with the Dove Men+Care Deodorant Real Men Marathon Team, I was motivated to hit the gym, but not sure I’m ready for the mental toughness these guys all shared in preparing for a 26.2 mile marathon. Running a 5K is a little more my style.
*Disclosure: Dove Men+Care is an NYC Dads Group sponsor. We work with brands that fit with our mission, and the ideas and opinions presented here are entirely our own.