When my coach was a young assistant, I spent the majority of my time wishing and plotting and waiting for him to be a head coach.
I held on to this wild assumption that once he got to the top, this life would magically get easier.
But, it’s true what they say: New levels, new devils.
I was focused (coach would say obsessed) with the fact that the head coach set the schedule.
Yes, there was a lot of the job that was even out of the head coach’s hands, like game days and having to travel for away games. But that only made me single in on the fact that the day to day was more in his control. He set the tone for when everyone came in and when everyone could go home.
Now I realize I was overlooking the fact that the head coach was always the first one in and the last one out. I didn’t pay attention to all the extras he had to worry about—budget, scheduling, play-time disputes, just to name a few.
I was prepared for the fact that the head coach is the figurehead of the program. As an assistant’s wife, I’d have to check my ego almost daily, as outside sources gave all the credit and attention to the head coach, all the while barely mentioning anyone else’s contributions.
So now, seeing my coach’s face all over the social media account and being interviewed by everyone with even a minimal interest in sports was one thing I saw coming. But, I did not factor in the amount of extra time it would consume.
I was aware the Head Coach would get credit in good times and in bad, win or lose. And I knew coaches were held accountable for the actions of their players on and off the field. We trust our livelihood to young men still developing their judgement, so we’ve been through that many, many times.
But I’d never thought about the fact that they could do things right, and unfortunate things still happen. Coronavirus cut coach’s first season as a head coach drastically short. Without any warning and really any experience to draw from, he was tasked to lead through unprecedented circumstances. Everything, everything, EVE.RY.THING, is a head coach’s responsibility.
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 overall lesson is that comparing the head coach position to the assistant coach is like comparing AstroTurf to grass fields. They each have their pros and cons. But you can’t make a difference either way if you’re not in the game.