Amphitheater football coach Brandon Willard is taking advantage of the holiday break by spending time with family.


Three months ago, Brandon Willard was spending almost all his time on the football field as Amphitheater's first-year coach.

Now, he's teaching his 3-year-old daughter Hayden how to ride her first bike.

Willard, like many other high school football coaches, is taking full advantage of the free time over winter break to be with their families.

"Being a football coach you have absolutely zero time whatsoever, so having this two-week break that I don't have to think about anything is really good," Willard said.

He and his family - which includes his wife, Rachel; his daughter, Mariah, 18; and his son, Noah, 10 - spent Christmas with relatives in Rosamond, Calif. They're now in Phoenix, where Willard is from.

"My oldest daughter is a freshman at the UA, and we hadn't seen her hardly at all so we got to spend a full solid week with her, and that's been fun," Willard said.

The Star recently chatted with three other coaches to see what they're doing over the holiday break:

Scott McKee, Sahuaro

Big highlight: Today is his daughter Mikayla's sixth birthday, which they'll celebrate at Disneyland for four days. McKee said he promises his wife, Nicole, and three daughters vacations over winter break and Memorial Day weekend to make up for all the time missed from football.

Quotable: "My wife raises those three little girls by herself, basically, during the football season, so at the end we try to reward them."

Laurence Ruhf, Cholla

Big highlight: He took his 21-month-old daughter, Penelope, to see the Arizona Cardinals beat the Detroit Lions 38-10 this month. It was her first NFL game, and she loved it. They have also been spending plenty of time at the park and Peter Piper Pizza.

Quotable: "You miss out on a lot during the season, so this time right here, I've been spending it all with my stepdaughter, Gwyn, and my youngest daughter, Penny (Penelope)."

Matt Johnson, Ironwood Ridge

Big highlight: Johnson and his family are going to San Diego for four days next week. His wife, Yvonne, is in the Air Force Reserve as a pharmacist. Johnson said they try to take at least three short out-of-town trips a year to keep a balance. Sometimes it's as simple as staying at another Air Force Base, which they will do next week in San Diego.

Quotable: "We try to designate some times as family times, and then my wife yells at me when she catches me on the computer working on football."