The relationship between Blake Treadwell and Don Treadwell is one that is obviously special for a number of different reasons as the two have bonded as father and son, coach and player and now, coach and coach and both recently spoke with Spartan Nation about their relationship in an exclusive interview.
Blake, who played along the offensive and defensive lines at Michigan State from 2009-2013 and rejoined the Spartans as a Graduate Assistant before the 2017 season. Don is beginning his third stint as an assistant coach after returning to the staff earlier this year as an Assistant Defensive Backs and Special Teams coach and served as the offensive coordinator from 2007-2010.
Although his father is a well-regarded coach, Blake said that as he grew up through the game of football, his dad made sure to be more of a father than a coach, something that he has appreciated more and more as time has gone on.
“I would say more when I was done playing and going through the thought process and everything,” he said. “He was always there to help me, it was never that kind of critical, overbearing type of coach-slash-dad. I would say it was more of a dad approach and as I grew - when you get older, you appreciate things.”
After leaving Michigan State in 2010, Don served as the head football coach at his alma mater, Miami (OH), from 2010-2013, before spending the last four years as an assistant at Kent State
As a parent and football coach, Don noted that the game of football provides opportunities to teach life lessons and one aspect that he used the game to teach his children was discipline, something he learned from his father when he was growing up.
“I think football teaches all of us a lot of lessons, that’s why the sport is so unique and special,” he said. “I think one of the words for me though would probably be discipline. As I think back to my father, a hard-working man, the one thing you knew was that he was going to be where he needed to be, on time and do the best job he could. So I think that word discipline - and we use it pretty heavily in the sport of football - that’s something I try to emulate and try to drill into him as he grew.”
Blake said that one of the biggest lessons he learned from his father was simply patience and understanding that hard work eventually pays off in the long run.
“I think if anything, patience,” he said. “You might not get what you want right now, it’s a long road, but eventually, if you stay true to who you are, you’ll eventually get to where you want to be. So I would say patience is one of the big things.”
After his four years at Michigan State, where he served as a captain in 2013 and made 24 career starts on the offensive line, including 14 games at left guard in 2013, Blake began his coaching career in 2015 at South Florida and was a Graduate Assistant for the Bulls through the 2016 season.
Throughout his playing career and brief coaching career, Blake said that he noticed different players who were not fortunate enough to grew up having a father figure, which has only allowed him to cherish the relationship he has with his dad.
“When I left here and went to South Florida for a couple of years and a lot of those players didn’t have dads, our star quarterback at the time, Quinton Flowers didn’t grow up with a father and you can tell that a lot of those players are missing a father relationship, that role model,” he said. “Some coaches had to take upon that and it really made me appreciate having a father and a strong figure to lean upon when you’re young, growing up and even today.”
Considering he has such a close relationship with his son, on and off of the football field, Don said that the close-knit relationship he has with his entire family stems from their faith and core values.
“I don’t know that you can put that meaning in words because that’s just a whole nother level outside of the norm because we’re talking about a connection, father-son connections and it’s probably one of the highest compliments you can have,” he said. “At the end of the day, as men of faith as a family and that is our foundation, I think a lot of those things stem from there because it’s not me basically doing anything, it’s just following the guidance of the Man upstairs. So I believe if I can do that and I’ve been blessed with a wonderful wife and if I had a business card, it would read ‘Lola and Don Treadwell and family’. I think that all mix in the pot together and if down the road, our children can do things the way we at least try to present for them to move forward in their life, in their own unique way, then we feel like we’ve been blessed.”
When asked what his father means to him, Blake said that it’s something that he can’t easily attach a word to, but has always appreciated the fact his dad has always been there for him.
“I really can’t put it into words what a father is to someone, especially the way he’s been,” he said. “He’s a father, a coach, someone I can lean on. I really can’t put it into words or express in words how much he means to me and what he’s done for me.”
Don, who was asked what Blake and the rest of his children mean to him, said that he too struggles to find words to describe that bond, but cited two words that stand out most to him when talking about his children.
“He touched on it pretty well, I don’t know that you can sum it up in a few words,” he said. “We all use the word love and that’s a very serious word and a very powerful word, so I think we’ve grown up with that all along. I think one of the words, when we watch our children grow up, is how proud we are of them because there’s a lot of challenges in this journey of life as we know and to see him grow and develop and stay the course on his goals and aspirations, it’s something that Lola and I are very proud of - him and his sister and brother as well.”
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