“People get labeled and they get misinterpreted,” Turgeon said. “I feel like he was. I wasn’t 100 percent sure when I hired, but now that I’ve worked with him for a year, year and a half, I feel that way. . . .
“When I was a young coach, all I ever thought about was coaching at the highest level and winning national championships. Now I still want to coach at the highest level and I still want to win national championships, but . . . I want to do it the right way.”
Making time for family
In the Turgeon family, schedules aren’t planned around basketball; lives are. There’s a blue pillow in the family’s guest room with the words: “We interrupt this marriage to bring the basketball season.”
When they met, Turgeon was a graduate assistant on the Jayhawks coaching staff and Ann was a student manager for the team. He was a bit more relaxed then, perhaps, but still had a strong distaste for second place. On their honeymoon, the Turgeons went to St. Thomas. The first night the newlyweds played backgammon. She won. He sulked.
“We were waiting to eat dinner, and he got up and left. He just left the restaurant and walked away,” Ann says. “They’re ready to seat us and he came back and told me, ‘I’m never playing backgammon with you again.’ ”
Nineteen years later, they still haven’t played another game, and Turgeon’s competitive fire — his need to win — has moved the young family all around the country.
Turgeon is aware of the costs. Off the top of his head, he knows this year he made it to just one of Will’s soccer games, two of Leo’s flag football games and two of Ella’s soccer games.
“This fall has been awful,” Turgeon said.
He’s seen plenty of coaches who couldn’t juggle, who felt they needed to choose between family and team and watched one — or both — fall apart. “Remember one thing,” Roy Williams told Turgeon years ago. “Don’t neglect your family. There’s never been a guy on his deathbed who said I wished I worked more.”
Ann texts a steady stream of updates while Turgeon is with his basketball family, and the coach still seems to learn something new about his kids every day. For example, 13-year old Will, the oldest, is ultra-competitive. He has to be the first to brush his teeth, to reach the top of the staircase, to finish his dinner.
“When he was younger, Will would just cry until we’d let him win,” Ann said. “Mark was like, ‘This is everything I’m against. He’s got to learn how to lose.’ ”
It’s a process. Losing can spark tantrums and Ann or Mark at times would physically have to carry their son off the field. “We have a serious problem here,” Ann told her husband not long ago.
“We don’t have a problem,” Turgeon said. “We just have to figure out how to temper it. You can’t make a kid that competitive. It’s in your heart. It’s who you are.”