Dedicated Dads go the limit for their children

June 20, 2004|EMILY TOADVINE

Troy McCowan takes his three daughters for ice cream, but as a diabetic, he usually doesn't have any.

He also takes them for practice dates. The girls dress up and go out on individual dates.

"It teaches them what to expect and what not to put up with," says his wife, Cherine McCowan.

When the girls - Helena, 9, Haley, 8, and Ambria Hope "Hopey," 6 - reach age 13, they are supposed to receive a diamond ring.

"It's supposed to remind them that they're God's first and Dad's second and whoever comes along after that better have something better to offer," Cherine says.

The 32-year-old dad is focused on his wife and children. Whether they're singing, running track or playing Trouble on one of the family game nights, his girls are his world.


"He loves kids and he loves track and he loves Danville," says his wife of 11 years.

Troy can't keep a smile off his face as he listens to some of the comments his three daughters make. His youngest usually fulfills the role of family comedian. She surprised them all when she finally decided she would be baptized last Sunday.

"She had told me, 'I love Jesus, but I guess I won't go to heaven because you can't get me in that water,'" says her mother, Cherine. "She doesn't even like showers."

Being a deacon at the church, Troy hurried to make arrangements to take off work and attend the event.

He schedules his life around his family commitments.

The same is true for Shawn Mountjoy, who spends most evenings at athletic events with his 15-year-old son, Kip, and 11-year-old triplets, Hannah, Hunter and Heath. Even after attending his daughter's softball game at Millennium Park, the family's next destination would be the golf course.

"October to April, we're in the basketball gym six nights a week," says Shawn.

Whether they're singing Jimmy Buffett songs in the car on the way to games or body surfing at a family vacation at the beach, Shawn takes pride in his family. After leaving his sales job as vice president of public contracts for Officeware, he is willing night after night to participate in his family's athletic endeavors because he thinks they learn a lot of valuable lessons.

"Shawn uses sports to teach them life values. He's not just teaching them sports," says Lencia Mountjoy, his wife of 19 years.

Shawn agrees that sports are a good way to instill morals in his children.

"They learn a lot of lessons in life like being part of a team and sometimes sacrificing for somebody else."

Shawn, whose children answer questions with "no ma'am" or "yes ma'am," says he also wants his children to learn respect.

"We were taught to go out and compete, but when the game was over, it was over. You didn't go out blaming everyone else."

As dads, Troy and Shawn have their hands full, juggling work and attending their children's activities, but they wouldn't have it any other way.

Troy schedules his shift as an assembler at Hitachi so that he works 131/2-hour days Friday through Sunday. This allows him the other four days of the week to spend time with his children. He also divides his time with church activities and as a track coach. He is on the school council and he and his wife often coordinate the class parties. He is an associate minister and a deacon-in-training at First Baptist Church at Second and Walnut streets.

Troy's favorite thing about fatherhood is watching them grow up. He is especially surprised by the changes, since two of his children were born prematurely.

"My oldest one was just 4 pounds and 3 ounces. She probably was just a little bigger than the size of my hand," he says.

Although his wife wishes she had a son, Troy says he enjoys the camaraderie of his girls.

"It's fun watching them be sisters. They have their little fights, but they love each other to death."

Troy also has the pride of some of them inheriting his talent. He was selected as a top singer in the state while a student at Danville High School and his wife and he often sing for weddings and other events. Haley has performed twice in the talent show at Hogsett Elementary School. Last time, she sang, "This Is My Father's Will."

Haley also wants to race around the track like her father did when he was in school.

"He's going to let me on his team when I'm in third grade," she says.

"She's been waiting for years to get in on her dad's team," Cherine says.

Troy's popularity extends beyond his family. When the children found out that her husband would coach, they had 110 try out.

"They signed up because they heard he was going to coach. Then they found out how hard he was," Cherine says.

Troy says his oldest daughter displays great artistic talent, but he credits his wife for instilling that skill.

Even with his many interests, Troy also makes time to help out around the house. His wife has multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy and heart problems. She doesn't drive, meaning that Troy must chauffeur her to numerous doctor's appointments.

"Our relationship has been crazy since the get-go, but he's such a sweet guy," she says.

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