Pleasanton Weekly

Arts & Entertainment - June 17, 2011

Father knows best

Lars HoTseung just 'gets it'

by Glenn Wohltmann

Lots of men qualify for World's Greatest Dad -- if the coffee mugs are right, anyway -- but one Pleasanton father has not only earned that title from his family, he's earned it from other dads, too.

Colin "Lars" HoTseung Jr. is like many local fathers. He's active in the lives of his two children, Colin III, 13, and Lauren, 12, but according to his friends, other fathers and the executive director of the YMCA, HoTseung takes it a step farther.

"He's not only really committed to his kids, he's a great leader in the YMCA's Guides and Princesses programs," said the Y's Kelly Dulka. "I just see him constantly putting his kids first, before his job, and before his friends. ... He's even taken his kids on business trips."

Peter Hoopes spent time with HoTseung while they both had kids in the Y's father-daughter Indian Princess program.

"He wasn't just in the program, but he volunteered to be Tribe Chief, Assistant Nation Chief, then Nation Chief. Now he is on the YMCA board," Hoopes said. "He went out of his way to guide and recruit other dads like myself to take leadership roles and set an example for our kids."

Hoopes said HoTseung just "gets it." It, for Hoopes, is the knowledge that life lessons for children are best taught by their parents.

"He knows there is only so much time when it comes to the formative years with our kids. When our kids are young it's also when we have the most pressure to perform in our careers," Hoopes said. "It's too easy to get caught up with work and overlook the special opportunities we have to be there for our kids. Once we're past these years you can't get them back."

He added that his friend probably doesn't know "how contagious his charismatic attitude and humble leadership is."

"The light went on for me when Lars was going to come over to my house for a weekend BBQ but when another kids organization that he was involved with needed some last minute help with building stage props he elected to help them out and work late into the evening building stage props," Hoopes said. "His kids will grow up with great memories of what he did for them."

In addition to the Y's programs, longtime friend Mark Sanchez said HoTseung finds time to coach softball games for his daughter and golf with his son.

"He always seems to be there for these special times," Sanchez said. "He actually owns his own printing company. They do special order label printing. Running the company it's amazing he still finds time to spend with his family."

And while middle school is usually the time kids start to pull away from their parents, that doesn't seem to be the case for HoTseung's children.

Colin, for example, said his father gives great advice and is supportive of whatever he might want to do in life.

"I told him I wanted to be a pilot many years ago, and since then he has been a great supporter to make sure that happens," Colin said, adding, "He gets involved with the things in my life such as my school grades and work, sports and outside activities like my band, and things I do with my friends. He is always on top of things, and if I do bad on a homework assignment or test, as any good responsible dad would do he asks me why it happened and how I could prevent it from happening again."

Colin said his dad isn't afraid to show his love, either.

"I really feel like I can tell him anything in my life that may be bothering me like school or friends, and he will be there caring, and willing to take what I have into consideration."

Lauren said she appreciates that her father works as hard as he does but still finds time for her and her brother.

"My dad used to travel every week for work, but he decided to quit his job so that he could spend time with our family," she said. "I was in many musicals when I was younger and my father worked backstage for my show. It wasn't the most fun job, staying up till 11 every night, but he was there to help. Since I liked doing musicals, he would too!"

Lauren said any good dad has a fun side to him, and that her father is fun to be around, and not just for her.

"In the Indian Princess program he seems to make little kids laugh and is so sweet to them," she said. "It makes me smile because I was once that little and he just seems like he cares a lot about kids and family."

HoTseung's wife, Kristen, said her husband just seems to have a nurturing side.

"When we met he was 25 years old, coaching a soccer team and running a Sunday school program for 4 year olds. I knew from the beginning, he was going to be a great father. And that he is! " she said. " His children are the most important thing to him in his life. Whatever they are involved in he becomes involved in as well."

She added that HoTseung is protective of his kids and watches to see that they make good life choices.

"He stays very firm with the children on what he expects of them entering these teenage years. Because of that I feel comfortable knowing that his expectations are always going to be guiding them," she said. "One day, I asked my daughter, 'Do you think Dad is too strict on you guys?' She responded, 'No, I like it.' I'm really lucky to have such a great a role model father for my children."

Colin said his father may have learned how to be a great father from his grandfather, but Lars' dad said his son is just a kind and generous soul.

"Lars asked me one day if I would like to play golf with Yogi Berra," the elder HoTseung said. He and a friend of his arranged it and we all had a big thrill. I knew that Lars did this because he knew how happy it would make me, not because it meant so much to him but what it meant to me."

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