Navigating the father-daughter dynamic ‘works out well’ for Northwood's Amys

BY CHAPEL FOWLER, News + Record Staff
Posted 6/17/20

PITTSBORO — Jason Amy, Northwood High School’s co-athletic director, takes his teaching seriously.

He especially treasures the Physical Education Pupil Instructors (or PEPI) class he created …

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Navigating the father-daughter dynamic ‘works out well’ for Northwood's Amys

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PITTSBORO — Jason Amy, Northwood High School’s co-athletic director, takes his teaching seriously.

He especially treasures the Physical Education Pupil Instructors (or PEPI) class he created for high school students interested in working in the field. It’s very hands-on, and it has its fair share of projects, homework and assignments.

“When I do the class,” he said, “I teach a certain way.”

This spring, when the work felt like too much, one student kept getting cries for help from classmates, mostly in iMessage form, to see if she could somehow lighten the load.

“Talk to your dad!” they’d text Kayla Amy.

“I’m like, ‘I have nothing to do with it,’” Kayla said this week.

“And I’m cracking up,” said Jason, sitting next to his daughter on a joint Zoom call “It just doesn’t work like that.”

When Kayla, a senior, graduated last Wednesday, it officially brought an end to the Amys’ four-year run of navigating a father-daughter dynamic alongside their respective roles at Northwood as teacher/coach/co-AD and student.

And the fact they’re joking about her nonexistent influence over his lesson plan — rather than an actual conflict — means “we did a pretty good job,” Kayla said.

Jason, 47, nodded: “I thought it worked out well.”

He’d been through it before with Carson, Kayla’s older brother, who graduated from Northwood in 2017. Jason coached him in wrestling there.

Before Kayla’s freshman year, she remembers a brief conversation with her father on how they’d go forward. The gist of it: give some space.

“I only had my dad (as a teacher) one time,” Kayla said. “We stayed a good distance away to where we weren’t always in each other’s face.”

“As a parent, you don’t want to be that helicopter that’s hovering over the kid the whole time,” Jason said. “I think it’s a matter of just making sure you give that respect, letting them do their thing.”

That held during school hours, but they found themselves together more often than not in extracurriculars, whether it was the women’s golf team — Kayla played, Jason coached — or PEPI events with elementary schoolers or Project UNIFY track practices.

“We’ve understood each other a little bit more,” Kayla said.

High school also brought a new angle and bonding opportunity — recruiting — to Kayla’s sport of choice, equestrian. Her parents, Jason and Heather, traveled with her to countless shows across the state and region as she worked to get her name out.

By her junior year, Jason and Kayla scored a meeting with the coach at St. Andrews University, which has a nationally recognized riding program and competes in the Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association.

Then, in November, the same week she won a circuit championship at the Triangle Horse Show in Raleigh, Kayla got a scholarship offer.

The decision was easy. In August, she’ll head to the private college in Laurinburg for her freshman year, as will Honor, her 7-year-old Argentinian Warmblood-breed horse.

“He’s all the way from Argentina,” Kayla confirmed, while Jason, smiling, rubbed two of his fingers together. (Honor wasn’t cheap.)

It’s been mostly low-key in the Amys’ home since mid-March, amidst the coronavirus pandemic, but they did get a cool opportunity last week.

At Northwood’s drive-by graduation ceremony on June 10, Jason hopped out of the family’s car on New Charger Boulevard, stepped to the outdoor podium and called out Kayla’s name as an official graduate — “a neat experience,” he said.

After she got her diploma, the Amys drove home for a joint celebration, since June 10 was also Kayla’s 18th birthday. There were two cakes: ice cream and angel food.

“A home run on both,” Jason said.

He said he’s looking forward “to seeing (Kayla) branching off on her own” at St. Andrews, and she’s excited, too — especially about the program’s top notch facilities and stables.

But for the next two months, she’s still home in Pittsboro, making some final memories with her parents before her next step and laughing at some you-had-to-be-there inside jokes with Jason — no longer her athletic director, but always her dad.

Reporter Chapel Fowler can be reached at or on Twitter at @chapelfowler.


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