Recent Batavia graduate Canaan Coffey got a head start on his upcoming collegiate career at Indiana Wesleyan, heading to campus to work out with the men’s basketball team. In his final prep season, Coffey shined both on the court and the football field, earning Kane County Chronicle Player of the Year honors for both sports. Today, we name Coffey the 2015-16 Kane County Chronicle-St. Charles Bank & Trust Male Athlete of the Year. The following is an edited transcript of a conversation between former sports editor Kevin Druley and Coffey, who set single-season program records for catches (83) and yards (1,154) during his senior football season before shining as a guard during a basketball season in which he led Batavia with a 15.8 points a game average and 88 3-pointers.
Druley: You spoke with the Chronicle a lot this past school year. Anything left unsaid?
Coffey: Not really. … I mean, of course, always, you look back and you want to go farther (in the postseason) than you ended up. Football and basketball both. I know one of the things I really wanted was a regional championship for basketball. But, I mean, it is what it is. And we had a fantastic year. I don’t think that we should be down on ourselves for not getting that because we had a heck of a year.
Druley: Certainly, coaches give you direction, but did you ever sense that, because of who you were and the athlete that you were, that there were moments where they backed off and said, ‘He knows what he’s doing here?’
Coffey: Yeah, I think throughout the years that I’ve built that reputation. That’s kind of one of those things I always wanted to be, was a leader on my teams. Just being that guy that people could count on, whether that be to make the right play at the right time, or just to be that guy that’s the encourager. I just wanted to be a positive influence on whatever team I was on. That shows in different ways, and I think the coaches did at some times just give me the opportunity to do what I felt was the best play call for the team or whatever I felt was right for the situation. But yeah, throughout the way, they gave me a little leeway. … And that might not always have been run a play for me or do something for me or any of that, but sometimes it was maybe, for football even, using me as a decoy and then getting someone else the ball. Something along the lines of that.
Druley: Can you pinpoint when you first had that thought and inclination toward leadership?
Coffey: Early on in my life, you know, and my parents said this with all my brothers, it’s just kind of get that vision in your mind of who you want to become and the kind of person or teammate or brother, for that matter, that you want to be. I think that they always really focused on that part of wanting to be a leader. After watching all my brothers [Batavia graduates Jordan, Jesse and Micah] go throughout the program and seeing how they handled themselves and how they worked with their teammates and the respect that they had from all their teammates and coaches, that was something that I wanted when I went to high school and went through the program, too. I mean, I just looked up to them for a lot of it, and their influence on me kind of got me to where I’m at today. I mean, I can take some of the credit, but I think a lot of it goes to them for being such positive role models for me, being guys that I can look up to and take some characteristics away from. I think that’s a lot of what got me to who I am today.
Druley: Do people joke with you about where’s your spring sport? I know you have a baseball background.
Coffey: Yeah, I mean, [recently retired Batavia baseball coach Matt] Holm has joked a lot with me about wanting me to come back out for baseball this year and all that. And even last year, for that matter. People have joked with me about it, for sure, but you know, especially this spring, I wouldn’t have been able to because I had shoulder surgery. I wouldn’t have been able to do much. It was tough not being able to play a spring sport. I mean, not being able to play baseball, because I did play a lot of AAU and travel basketball over the last few years, and that kind of was my spring sport. It just wasn’t really associated with the high school. … I definitely went to a few baseball games this year because I wanted to see how all the guys were doing and all that, so I got my little taste of baseball in this spring.
Druley: How is the recovery going?
Coffey: I had the surgery in late March, and I’m right around three months right now for recovery. It should be around about four or five months before full-contact recovery. … Just over halfway. … I’ve been able to do pretty much all the workouts, just no contact has been kind of tough, not being able to do the five-on-five stuff. But yeah, things are going well.
Druley: It sounds like football is coming soon to Indiana Wesleyan. Any rumblings about being a two-sport college athlete?
Coffey: Actually, it’s kind of funny. … They just got it approved a couple of months back, they just got getting a football team, they got it approved. So by the fall of my junior year, they will have a football team. So maybe by then, I might think about it. But yeah, as of right now, I’ll just be a basketball guy. But it’ll definitely be fun to just kind of see how that develops because they’ll have to build the football stadium and the locker room. All that stuff. And so it’ll just be kind of fun when I’m here, be able to see that develop.