My immersion into football wifehood was nothing at all what I thought it would be.
My coach and I were set up on a blind date, something I was reluctant to do but pleasantly surprised by. Our first date was two-thirds into the season, and as such, I ended up going to the last two games of the year.
The nostalgia that hit me at these games was welcoming but also a bit of a shock. Not knowing the coaching world’s politics well, I was mildly underwhelmed when six months into our relationship, my coach was hired as a head coach.
I remember my best friend’s sister, also a head coach’s wife saying to me, “Welcome to the football widowhood!” I honestly had no idea what she meant, but we laughed it off, and life went on.
I distinctly remember the first day of practice and ALL the planning that led up to the season, but nothing quite prepared me for what was to come.
Those first few weeks were a blur of two-a-days, weekend practices, film watching, coaches’ meetings, planning, more preparation, etc. I was lucky if we talked on those days.
And then the games started, and everything intensified. Hours got even longer, game film, practice film, coaches meetings, etc.
It was all so much. I realized my naivety. I really had no idea what went into the sport.
At this point, we were now a year into our relationship, so deeply in love; I could feel myself growing resentful, but at the same time, I absolutely loved the brotherhood and camaraderie I saw on the field.
I remember sitting there praying, asking God to show me what my purpose was on the team. Why was I placed in this relationship? To show support, on my days off, I started to show up at practice more.
I hadn’t missed a game yet, and I made a point to continue to attend. My coach had a young staff with few other girlfriends or wives, but I made a point to reach out to those around me. I realized my coach had a winning attitude on the field, and it was my job to maintain that in the stands and, simply put, everywhere.
It is true what they say—the coach is either everyone’s best friend or everyone’s target…
In my coach’s first season as head coach, they won only two games. At every game, he carried his team onto his field with grace and dignity. He never showed his disappointment, frustration, fear, or anger, even with all the criticism he received.
In those moments watching his servant leadership, I realized my why—and it wasn’t to complain about being a “football widow.”
This was OUR calling. We were a team, ministering to these young men, being a witness for Jesus, and praying for salvation.
My coach’s first job as head coach was in an area of low socioeconomic status. There were players from broken homes, those who could not afford lunch outside of school, players who could only practice if they brought their younger siblings since they were babysitting, and players who had to make sure they could clear the time with their work schedules. One of my roles was nurturing these boys and showing them what an adult relationship looked like.
My coach and I hosted and paid for team BBQs after practice.
My mom and I made sack lunches so boys could go to football camp and not be bothered with the cost of food.
We never once said a word; we just showed up and passed out the food because that is what we were called to do.
And lastly, my coach, win or lose, taught this first team in their losing season, and several other teams in winning or losing seasons—how to lose with grace and win with humility.
Life is great when you win, but more importantly, it is how you play the game and handle those losses.
My big lesson that first season was shifting my own attitude and realizing this life isn’t about me.
There is no widowhood.
We are the matriarch in this ministry we were called into. The leadership our coaches pour into their players might be the only positive parental figures and role models they will ever know. Who am I to take that away?