Eagles deal with absence of coach McConaghy

EAGLE POINT — His own health has rarely been much of a concern for Eagle Point boys basketball coach Brent McConaghy, but for a month now it’s the only thing atop his priority list.

The 32-year-old McConaghy surprised everyone, including himself, on Dec. 5 when he got dizzy and passed out while coaching the Eagles during their nonleague game against visiting South Medford.

“I don’t remember most of what happened,” McConaghy said Monday night. “The only information I’ve gotten is from people telling me what I looked like on the floor.”

He’s in good spirits these days, but certainly not where he’d like to be.

Since his collapse, McConaghy has been on restricted duty. Assistant coach Micah Shibano assumed his basketball duties on that fateful night and ever since, and McConaghy had been unable to work until starting back in the classroom last Wednesday.

McConaghy is hoping that a return to coaching is in his near future, with a second MRI set for Wednesday potentially spurring that along, but he has yet to receive a clean bill of health from either his cardiologist or neurologist.

That may be the most frustrating part of his entire ordeal.

“They’ve been going back and forth,” McConaghy said of his mystery ailment. “There’s just conflicting information. Both parties say there’s something wrong, they just don’t know what it is yet and they just can’t pin it down.”

“It’s just one of those things,” he added, “maybe high school basketball is a little more stressful than we all think.”

McConaghy has remained up to date on his team by having steady communication with Shibano, and was cleared to return to observing practice last Thursday. He also hasn’t been able to stop himself from providing coaching tips to his players after viewing their Hudl highlights.

Thankfully, said McConaghy and Shibano, the Eagles were already well equipped to handle such a situation.

“You don’t ever expect something like that to happen during a game, especially at the half, but we’ve kind of prepared for this just in case,” said Shibano. “We have a program-wide rule that if someone has a technical foul they’re suspended four quarters. We practiced for this in the summer where Brent had me coaching games and even last year I had to coach against Marist because he got a technical before that game.”

Shibano has worked with the Eagle Point volleyball program for five years and this is his third year with the basketball program. Last year he coached the JV program and served as varsity assistant, but this year — fortuitously — Shibano’s duties were set as primary varsity assistant.

“The timing really worked out for this because I don’t know if I’d be able to put forth enough time to coach both teams,” said Shibano.

The presence of his assistant coach and knowledge everything is in position to move forward has been a blessing for McConaghy.

“It takes that part of the stress off my shoulders knowing that he can do it,” he said. “I’m excited with Micah, he’s doing his job well. He got put in this position in different circumstances but he and the players have faced the adversity and gone right through it.”

A tough nonleague slate kept Eagle Point from posting many wins — in fact EP only had one in 10 tries — but the Eagles are more settled in at this point and opened Midwestern League play last Friday with a win over North Eugene. A big challenge awaits Tuesday night when the Eagles play at Crater, recently knocked from the unbeaten ranks.

“The boys have reacted really well to it all and of course are worried about coach Mac the person rather than coach Mac the basketball coach,” said Shibano.

“They’ve been working a lot harder just to make sure they’re keeping up with what coach Mac wants,” he added. “It’s been a lot of worry about coach Mac but the players have done a really good job. It’s been a good maturation process for them, realizing it’s more than just a game when it comes to someone’s life and you can’t take anything for granted.”

Until he gains more information, McConaghy said there’s no real timetable for his return to the court, and thankfully no one at Eagle Point is treating that as a priority given the much greater stakes involved.

“We’ve told our guys that Micah is the head coach right now and anything that comes from him is coming from me and him,” said McConaghy. “I think they’re all getting used to me sitting at practice and they’re darn sure used to me commenting through Hudl. Everything else, we’ll just wait and see.”

— Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, khenry@mailtribune.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry

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