It seems like an eternity right now, but they will one day not cry when coach is actually around. They will go to him when he walks through the door, instead of clinging to you.
It was there, with my metaphorical house stripped to bare studs, that I realized I had built it with all the wrong things.
I started over with the basics, faith became the groundwork on which everything was rebuilt. Finding a church community and reading God’s Word was the first step.
From there, I began to realize how grace (grace for coach, this lifestyle, and most importantly myself) was necessary as the support beams. It allowed me to have the patience I needed to get through the day, the season, the storm.
So, while it is important to cheer for others, don’t forget to treat yourself the way you treat others. Give yourself grace, recognize that perfection isn’t the goal, and don’t ever give up.
After two moves and two kids under two, I finally decided that something needed to change. And if it wasn’t going to be his job, and if it wasn’t going to be our marriage, then that left only one thing—me.
These are the things that helped provide that change.
To anyone outside of the sports industry, I’m sure you’re thinking to yourself “What is a coach’s wife?” “Why does she identify and define herself by her husband’s job?” Well, if you haven’t had the pleasure of getting to know a coach’s wife, it might be hard to get it. It’s not just cute game day tees, making goodies bags, and cheering in the stands.
It’s “Hey babe, I forgot my lucky khakis. Can you drop them off at the field house?” only to not know which one of the 50 pairs he’s referring to.
It’s pacing back and forth in the stands, muttering under your breath and/or bursting into screams, all while managing to keep the kids entertained and well behaved (and wearing your lucky game day tee.)
It’s a hug and a kiss after an exhilarating win or a longer, tighter hug after a heartbreaking loss and lending a supportive ear to go over the rights and the wrongs either way.
It’s having a large extended family that will be there for you in an instant when you need it, without question or hesitation. And vise versa.
It’s “I’m sorry, I know I said that we could go to that, but something’s come up. I have to go into work.”It’s biting your tongue and turning the other cheek when someone in the stands says “What was that? Why would he call that play? Does he even know what he’s doing?!”
It’s getting asked a lot “What does he do in the off-season?” “Coaching is a full time job?” And “What do you mean he can’t take the day off to come to my <insert event here>?!”
It’s “Hey babe. So, there’s this unbelievable opportunity that came up. What would you think about moving (again)?”
It’s a heartbreaking debate as to whether you go support your husband at his game or stand in his absence at your child’s event.
It’s having a heart big enough so there’s room for so many players, their parents, schools and towns, but strong enough to not break when it’s time to leave them.
It’s a faith strong enough to go through weeks or months of every year staring down the uncertainty of what the future holds and knowing whatever happens will be for your good.
It’s not knowing how you’ll make it through another game, another season, or another move, but digging deep to find the will and the way.
It’s more than just a game or just a sport. It’s more than winning or losing. It’s more than just supporting and consoling.
It’s handling all the personal logistics, so coach can focus on the program ones. It’s packing and selling the old house, and saying goodbye to the friends and memories made. It’s unloading and settling into the new house, and getting out into the next community to plant seeds.
It’s fading into the background of someone else’s dreams and not getting overcome by the darkness, but instead finding your glow in the silver lining. It’s not playing an active role in the decisions that affect your life but being flexible and open to what may come. It’s going where you’re called, but not necessarily where you want.
It’s hard times and beautiful ones. It’s stressful times and uplifting ones. It’s uncertain times and adventurous ones. It’s the times that are part of the game plan and the last-minute Hail Mary ones.
We don’t start out as coach’s wives. The road to becoming one is bumpy and complicated. It’s not that a coach’s wife is defined by her husband’s job, but that she is refined by it.
I pray he remembers he has a wife who has his back (sometime maybe too much), no matter what. I am strong enough to be a coach’s wife.
But then the games stopped. Sports and this lifestyle came to a screeching halt. Suddenly, he was home all the time.
Then, on a Saturday in October, which started like any other day, I drove about an hour away with my mom to watch a couple of coach’s scrimmages. Because of the set up of the scrimmage, we were allowed to watch from the sidelines. And that’s where I finally learned the lesson that I was not in control. No matter how hard I tried, or how much I planned, nothing was a given.
Can we live without sports? Yes, of course. We did that for a time. But, if we learned anything from last season, it’s that this is more than just a game.
I’ve come to the conclusion that coaches' wives who develop 4 characteristics—patience, perspective, perseverance, and peace—end up being able to walk through this life with a little more determination and ease.
My first year as a head coach’s wife was filled with more learning than all the other fifteen years combined. I wasted a lot of time and energy waiting and wishing. I didn’t use the time I was given to make as big a mark as I could and should have because my focus was elsewhere.
The most freeing thing I’ve learned is that it’s possible for a person to hold complete sadness and immense joy at the same time.
The coach’s wife life is this wild dichotomy of having your life (from your daily schedule to your entire future) be dependent upon someone else, their dreams and performance. But at the same time, in order to survive and thrive in it, you must learn to be independent from that person and function solo a large majority of the time.
But the truth is, no one bad play, no one unexpected loss, not even one loud heckler in the stands will be able to close a door that is Divinely yours. Along that same line, no clawing, scratching, or forcing will open one that isn’t meant for you.
Now, I laugh at the mention of an “off-season,” I add two hours on when coach says he will be home in fifteen, and I relish the challenge of attempting anything I’ve never tried before.
My coach’s wife story is one of consistently never being where I wanted or thought I should be, but always being where I needed to be. After 16 years in the coaching life, I can 100% guarantee that the "what ifs" aren’t worth anything.
You and your kids get to be heavily involved in his job, his passion and his purpose. It’s not just coach who is setting the example for the next generation, it’s your entire family too.
We often hesitate to go too deep because we are very aware of the pain that is caused from ripping out an ingrained root system to move. And those roots are always a little damaged, even once they are integrated into their new area.
But, I have come out of my typical “moving funk” years ahead of normal. All because I kept moving forward, doing the next right thing, even when I didn’t want to or didn’t feel like it. Unpack that box. Accept that invitation from a new neighbor. Decorate that room. Explore your new surroundings. Ask for (or accept) help.
I am trying to acknowledge the daily victories, like my child made his first friend or I found a dentist that doesn’t have a 6 month wait. With each small victory, it gets a little easier.