BOULDER — As the head coach of the University of Colorado men's basketball team, Tad Boyle is the most recognizable face in the Boulder County area when it comes to hoops.
On many winter nights, however, even the Buffaloes head coach is just another anxious father hoping his children and their teams play well. Typically, these moments of normalcy take place at Boulder High School, where Boyle spends whatever free chance he gets watching his son Jack Boyle and daughter Claire Boyle play for the Boulder High Panthers.
It's not easy for Tad Boyle to just be a dad. But getting the chance to, he said, is part of what makes high school basketball special.
"I just try to be supportive and be a parent," Tad Boyle said after the Boulder boys beat Greeley West on Jan. 29. "It's hard not to put your coaching hat on. It's a lot harder being in the stands when you don't feel like you have an effect on the game. As a parent, you're really just at the mercy of what's going on out there."
Boyle, who played high school basketball at Greeley Central, is a product of Northern Colorado area basketball, to this day claiming, "I'm a Greeley Central Wildcat, through and through."
Starting his coaching career as the sophomore coach at Greeley West before becoming a junior varsity coach at Loveland, Boyle got his first head coaching job at Longmont from 1991-94. After assistant coaching at the University of Oregon, Jacksonville State and Wichita State, he returned to Colorado as the head coach at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. Boyle has been the head coach at CU since 2010.
His many connections to the area, including his wife Ann who is also from Greeley, would be enough for him to catch the odd game or two. But with Jack and Claire on the varsity teams at Boulder High, and 13-year-old son Pete almost in high school, Boyle can't resist the pull of prep basketball.
"I don't get the chance to see all the games but I see as many as I can because there's nothing like high school basketball," Tad Boyle said. "College basketball is really special and it's what I do for a living. But high school basketball is where we all grew up, we all did it. When I grew up in Greeley, high school basketball was a big part of that community and a big part of my life growing up, going to high school games and dreaming of being a high school player on the local team.
"It's just great to share that passion with our kids and you just hope they have a great experience because very few kids grow up to play in college. Having that great high school experience is special, not only for the kids but for the parents to be able to see your kids experience that and have a sense of normalcy."
Jack Boyle is a senior on the Panthers boys team, which is 15-4 and currently leads the 5A Front Range League, and committed to play for Pomona-Pitzer men's basketball. Claire Boyle is an up-and-coming sophomore on an improving seven-win Panthers girls team. But as if there weren't enough distractions available to a prep athlete these days, having the local Division-I head coach for a father could be big one, right?
Not according to Jack, who says his father's celebrity doesn't infringe on his normalcy, or his sister's either.
"It's great," Jack Boyle said. "The city of Boulder is awesome and we all love Boulder High, we all love CU. It's been awesome to be able to have my dad come watch us both play, and then I get to watch my sister play too, it's really fun. He could really help me out as a coach but what I really appreciate is that he's a great dad. When it comes to basketball, he lets us have our space. He doesn't try to tell us what to do but he's always there for us if we need him."
Tad Boyle has gone from Northern Colorado prep player to head coach of Colorado's flagship University. Now, while he sits quietly in the back row of the Boulder High gym, his children carry on the Boyle basketball legacy at Boulder High School.