Dad dot info
DAD.info form. Ask questions, get answers
DAD.info | Fatherhood | Interviews | How I raised a Pro-Sportsman

How I raised a Pro-Sportsman

Dad.info sat down with Essex Cricket legend Don Topley and his son English Cricketer, Reece Topley to talk sport. What’s their family secret?

Reece Topley, currently struggling again with injury might miss the next few weeks playing for England, but while he is resting up found time to sit down with his Dad and talk with the team at Dad.info. We have all been there on the sidelines, the embarrassing pushy parents hoping to see our kids excel at sports. Most of us though aren’t pro-level sportsman like Reece’s Dad Don. So how do you raise sporty children?

When did you realise your son had exceptional talent?

Don first clocked that his son was a talent pretty early, ‘Reece was introduced to cricket at such a young age because of my own cricket experience. I realised from between the ages of 9 to 11 that he had something very special. Watching him swing the ball from such a great height to being fast-tracked through all the age groups in representative cricket, his ability both physically and mentally, are some of my most fond memories’.

Don Topley, or Toppers would know talent when he saw it. He took 564 wickets at top level county cricket. But it wasn’t always going to be cricket for Reece. Don watched on as his son first took an interest in basketball (Reece is 6’7) and then American Football. However when Reece joined the Royal Hospital School, where Don coached cricket it was then that Don realised, ‘without a shadow of a doubt, he (Reece) had the natural ability to be a professional and international cricketer and has chosen a career in the sport in which he is most talented’.

Is it hard living in your father’s shadow?

Reece doesn’t remember it that way. ‘There were obviously advantages as I had access to cricket a lot earlier than most people and coaching from my father’. Reece says his Dad doesn’t try and give him advice on playing professionally. However he has always enjoyed the benefits of training with his Dad relying on him to boost his confidence. Don always tell Reece he is ‘good enough’.

Reece went from playing cricket at 17 at the Royal Hospital School, to in the blink of an eye playing professionally. Although the father and son share a love of cricket, Reece says there are points of difference. ‘My Dad lives and breathes the game, whereas I enjoy switching off from cricket when I’m not playing or training’.

Reece Topley is famed for his talent but also unfortunately for his injury record. Did you ever consider quitting sport?

‘His mother would have tried to introduce a plan B’ says Don, ‘but from my own position as Dad, I admired his resilience and bounce-back ability’. Reece has had five stress fractures and a huge operation on his back. Don remembers, ‘There were many dark days, but I always felt his resilience would stand him in good stead’. Reece’s personality and character which developed at boarding school, gave him a good grounding, and aided his numerous recoveries. ‘Many other bowlers may have opted to leave the game in such circumstances’.

Don appreciates that Reece’s resilience has been tested again this year. Being away with the England Cricket team during lockdowns has meant that Reece has had to cope living under Covid regulations within bio-secure bubbles whilst abroad. His Dad believes that skills he learnt at boarding school like ‘learning to, conform to rules and regulations and importantly, being part of a community to which you are responsible… helped him negotiate those long stretches of time in his Covid bubbles’.

Do you ever feel nostalgic watching your son play?

copyright – Don Topley

Don can feel quite nostalgic for his own career when he watches his son play. ‘Every time I watch him play live at a cricket ground or when I’m watching him on television. As an ex-bowler myself, I bowl every ball with him. I know every time he goes out to bowl that he is good enough to contribute out there’. Like all of us parents though his over-whelming emotion is pride. ‘I have enjoyed watching him grow from playing cricket at school to now being a professional cricketer. The pride and joy is immense… I am a very lucky man’.

And finally, we had to ask, who is the better cricketer?

Don: Reece undoubtedly, he has proudly played for England 17 times. Reece is a faster and better bowler, but… I am still the best batsman in our family.

Reece: Me by far, but he is the best batsman!

Related entries

Four Dads Row the Atlantic to Save Lives

Four Dads Row the Atlantic to Save Lives

Four dads are taking on the incredible feat of rowing 3,000 miles across the Atlantic to raise funds for premature birth research. The team have named themselves Elijah’s Star, in memory of baby Elijah who was born premature and lived for only 37 days. They hope to...

The Anorexia Wars

The Anorexia Wars

It came out of the blue completely. Emily, my daughter came home from school and admitted to my wife she had been making herself sick. Anorexia often afflicts high achieving young people with a sense of perfectionism. When we look back at that summer of 2012 Emily’s...

The Anorexia Wars

Astronaut Dad

Two American Dads - Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin At 3.17pm on the 20th July 1969, two families including six very excited children sat glued to black and white television sets. They watched, along with the rest of the world, as their Dads marked a major milestone...

Latest entries

The Top 10 Hidden Gem Days Out for Half Term

The Top 10 Hidden Gem Days Out for Half Term

Looking for something different to do this half term? Legal and General have found the top 10 UK days out that are less well-known, with excellent reviews on TripAdvisor. Log Heights, Outdoor Adventure, Harrogate Based in the grounds of Ripley Castle, Log Heights is a...

Can I watch Squid Game with my kids?

Can I watch Squid Game with my kids?

The news is buzzing with stories of children reenacting scenes from the hit Netflix show Squid Game. Kids as young as 6 have seen enough of the violent series to be 'playing' it on the playground, and there are reports of children being hurt. The story of the series,...

Pin It on Pinterest