After nearly 15 years of coaching, Stanfield girls basketball coach Kyle Cowan had begun to contemplate stepping away from the profession he loves to focus on something different.

“I just thought it might be my time to go,” he said. “I have a young family, and obviously the first priority in my life is spending as much time with them as possible. I’ve always loved coaching, but those are the thoughts that run through your head at certain times in your life.”

A random event has caused Cowan to reconsider his thoughts about stepping away, however.

A recent zip-line accident Thanksgiving day forced Cowan into the hospital with a shattered elbow, a broken tailbone and multiple broken vertebrae.

Cowan needed surgery to repair the damage, forcing him to miss the first nine games of the Stanfield girls basketball season.

“That was the worst part of the entire incident,” he said. “It was really difficult for me. I just had to sit back and watch, when I knew I could still do some things to help the team out.”

Cowan’s assistant coach Jodee Eckman took over the head coaching responsibilities in his absence.

“She did an extraordinary job while I was gone,” he said. “It’s a tough situation for everyone. She was handling the junior varsity team and the varsity team. It’s a lot to ask of anyone. I was really pleased with how she handled it all.”

Cowan said his injury has put his feelings about coaching into perspective.

“I didn’t know how much I’d miss it until it was taken away from me,” he said. “We all have a limited amount of time to do the things we want. Having to sit out for awhile made me really start to think about that.”

Cowan said one of the first principles of his coaching philosophy is appreciating the opportunity to play.

“It’s the first thing I tell my players,” he said. “Not everyone gets to have these experiences, and we need to appreciate that.”

That belief stems back to Cowan’s high school playing days. He broke his wrist during basketball season one year and missed the entire season.

“I learned that you have to value these times because it can be taken at any moment,” he said. “Now I look at it as a coach, and I have to appreciate the fact that I’m out here doing what I love. Not everyone gets the chance to coach varsity basketball.”

Now that he’s back on the sidelines, Cowan said his passion for coaching has been reinvigorated.

“It’s something that I love to do, and this event made me see that,” he said.

Cowan’s focus now is improving a team that has struggled this season.

“We’re getting more competitive out there,” he said. “That’s really the goal for this season. Our team is working hard, and we’ve started to play better. I’m really looking forward to getting back into the swing of things.”

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