Late night practices, phone calls interrupting family time, coaches meetings, and games. No matter the level, coaching demands time. It demands more time than we wish it did, and far more time than people outside of the coaching realm could ever understand.
Why does it matter so much to him? Why would he spend so much time with players who aren’t his own kids? Why is he home so late every night? Why can’t any family plans be made ahead of time? If he is home late one more night, I am going to lose it.
If you have thought any of these things or had someone say them to you, you may be a coaches’ wife. Not everyone understands why coaching is so important. Not every spouse is understanding of the coaching lifestyle. And even when you are a strong, supportive coaching family, you will have your moments of doubt and struggle.
Here’s the thing though, if you embrace this life instead of fight it, it can be so much more than just a game or just a sport, because even with the ups and downs, being a coaching family means more.
1. Being a coaching family means having an enormous extended family.
My husband’s players love our son and will take the time to play ball with him after a game or practice. When we have moved or have work that needs to be done, we know that we have a bunch of guys we can call on and will help, no questions asked. Many of the parents have even taken the time to get to know our family and invest in us.
You get out what you put into this life. If you are distant and rebellious against the coaching life, then it isn’t going to be pleasant for you. But when you invest, others will invest in you. The community that creates is so rewarding.
2. Being a coaching family means having something the whole family can invest in.
This looks different for each family, but when you choose to get behind being a coaches’ family, it means you have something worthwhile to invest in. When you are a coaching family, you have the opportunity to invest in the players and make their lives better. Supporting your coach is investing. Cheering for the team is investing. Getting to know the players is investing. It doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated. You are investing just by showing up where you can.
3. Being a coaching family means work, sacrifice and reward.
The hours are long and the pay at many levels is laughable considering the hours put in. There is no doubt that this lifestyle requires sacrifice on the part of the coach and the coaches’ family. The reward comes when you see the hard work the coaches and team have put in paying off. Sometimes the reward isn’t immediate. Sometimes you see why it was worth it later, when a player comes to your coach with something personal because they have come to trust them, or when a former player comes back and expresses how much his time with the team and coaching staff shaped who he is.
4. Being a coaching family means learning patience and resilience.
When parents are attacking the coaching staff or their families or refusing to show support, patience is probably not the virtue most of us naturally adhere to. When coach is two hours later than expected, again, our initial reaction is not patience or understanding. When attacking happens or school politics are exerting their ugly force, resilience is not easy. One thing I have learned in my time as a coach’s wife, though, is when any of the ugly sides of coaching come out, we can defend our families, yes, but getting involved in the arguing and name-calling will make no difference. If we are always ready to fight, we are always going to be unhappy. Instead, we have to decide to practice patience, and the resilience will come with experience. It isn’t easy, but it is essential.
5. Being a coaching family is the opportunity for a community that extends outside of the field.
This past summer, my husband was in a car wreck. While at the scene of the wreck, he texted the coaches to let them know what happened and tell them he was okay. Ten minutes later, our head coach pulled up, and ran across the street to check on us and didn’t leave until he was sure we were okay. In that moment, I knew we were with a staff that was more than just my husband’s work associates. They were family. Also, through groups like Friday Night Wives, coaches’ wives all over the country can connect and network, finding camaraderie and solidarity in realizing there are others like us out there.
Being a coaching family is the opportunity for more. It is more than a game you win or lose. It is more than the crowds, scoreboards, lights and adrenaline. No matter where you are or how ideal the coaching situation is, there is more to be found in this lifestyle. What you do as a coach’s family is more, and worth it. Don’t forget that.