Mother-daughter duo paying dividends for Oak Lawn

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Oak Lawn badminton coach Patricia Casey just needed to hear it from someone else.

Juggling her coaching duties while trying to see her daughter, Melissa Greiman, play at Plainfield South as a freshman, Casey thought she was not giving either side the attention it deserved.

“We really tried where I was coaching here, and she was playing in Plainfield,” Casey said. “I was upset because I felt like I was shorting people here and my daughter. I was torn between coaching and being a Mom.”

But then Casey heard the advice that helped make her situation that much easier.

“Another coach said ‘Watch your daughter play. Don’t feel guilty about watching your own kid play because it goes too fast,’” Casey said. “It was good advice.”

So after her daughter’s freshman year at Plainfield South, Casey decided to move from Plainfield to Oak Lawn, allowing Melissa to transfer and play badminton with her Mom as her coach.

Casey has coached badminton since 1994, producing three conference team championships, three sectional championships and 78 conference champions across singles and doubles.

Melissa, a senior, plays No. 1 doubles.

Heading into the final month-plus of the season, Greiman says they do their best to keep the mother-daughter dynamic separate from the coach-athlete angle. Badminton is badminton. Home is home.

“A lot of people assume she would treat me differently because she’s my mom, but at school I’m her athlete, not her kid,” Greiman said. “She doesn’t treat me differently than she would any athlete.”

Having played on the varsity as a freshman at Plainfield South, Greiman worked her way up upon arriving at Oak Lawn. She put her time in on the JV team before making the jump the varsity.

Now, she is a team leader for the Spartans, helping lead the doubles contingent. How have they made it work? The practices, duals and meets are left behind.

“During games there are some moments,” Greiman said with a laugh. “Just some moments, but that’s more coach-athlete. At home, we leave whatever happened on the court.”

So after two-plus years having her daughter with her day in and day out on the team, Casey can see the end in sight. The South Suburban Conference meet is scheduled for May 1.

“So far, not too emotional,” Casey said with a smile. “It will be as the end gets closer. Melissa wants to get downstate. I want that for every athlete, especially when it’s your own kid.”

As for Greiman, also a drum major in the marching band, she’s been playing badminton since she was seven. She doesn’t see that changing anytime soon, even next year at Indiana State.

“I had an interview in January, and they had never heard of competitive badminton,” Greiman said. “I’ll probably try intramurals. I’m interested to see if there’s kids who show up and haven’t played before.”

In the meantime, she’ll try and finish strong, individually and as a team.

“It will be tough, but we’ve got a good shot at sectionals, to get a majority of us downstate,” Greiman said. “That’s the goal.”

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