I promised myself I’d never let that happen again, that even if I knew I’d only be somewhere for a short time, I would trust that God had planted me there “for such a time as this” and jump in with both feet and a whole heart to the new life he had for me, in that exact place, for that exact moment.
It’s Monday, which means we’re answering another question in our Veteran Coach’s Wife series.
QUESTION FROM NEWBIE WIFE
Dear Veteran Coach’s Wife,
How do you deal with a head coach’s wife that is trying to be a wife “leader” but is severely unfair? She and her children are allowed at practices/events but other wives aren’t informed of these opportunities. Parking passes, reserved seatings, event passes, wives get-togethers are all chosen by her and not provided for everyone. Some opportunities are even offered to her friends and family instead of staff wives. What do you do when the head coach’s wife is nice to your face and then talks poorly about you behind your back? Help!
Head Coach’s Wife Conflict
ANSWERS FROM VETERAN COACHES WIVEs
Dear Head Coach’s Wife Conflict,
First, let me offer my sincerest apologies to you. I don’t have to imagine how you feel. I have been there. Here are some suggestions for dealing with this:
First, stay calm; easier said than done.
When things happen, take 30 seconds to collect, process, and think; this will keep you from retaliating or saying something you don’t mean at the moment. You are going to have to make a choice here: do you confront the head coach’s wife or not?
Second, you need to discuss this with your husband. If he is adamant that you don’t confront her; respect his decision. I would make it clear that he is expected to help you with parking passes, reserved seating details, and other things related to going to games. It will be hard to go that road (I have done it before with my mother), but I imagine you’re not the only one left out in the cold. Do your best to be positive; take care of your family, your husband’s players, and find a friend outside the wives group that loves your team. When my mother and I were in this situation, we chose not to confront the other wife. My mother explained to me that things would not change, and probably get worse, especially for my dad.
At the time, I wanted my mom and me to stand up for ourselves, but looking back now with more years under my belt, she was right. Whatever you decide, you need to have full support from your husband. That is the relationship you need to protect.
Dear Head Coach’s Wife Conflict,
Eek, this is a tough one. There are difficult people in every area of life but, when it’s in the coaching sphere it seems extra hard because we’re all supposed to be on the same team, right?! We’ve been at several different schools, some with super supportive wives and some with less-than-supportive. Sadly, I have not found either to change. They have remained in either the supportive or the unsupportive category throughout our time despite efforts to connect, kindness, etc. All that to say, we are called to our own integrity, regardless of how someone else acts.
I’m so bummed that you aren’t getting those choices that you mentioned. If there are wives who are trustworthy, cling to them, but don’t engage in “common enemy intimacy” (kudos to Brene Brown for the term). Y’all can be friends and support one another without bonding over your dislike of her leadership. Make the best of the situation as is and, if anything holds true in coaching, it will change at some point!
Sometimes People Disappoint Us
I sat in that gym while my husband played basketball with my favorite teenager for hours after practice. No talking, no crying, just turning all his emotions into jump shots and the world’s biggest hug when we took him home. That’s all he needed.
We don’t have to tell you that it’s been a crazy year and some months. We know you’ve been under a lot of stress. We’ve spent a lot of time praying for you. But, you know who has also been under a lot of stress? Your wife.
If you didn’t know it before, 2020 was the year that you confirmed you outkicked your punt coverage when you married your wife. We know you’re already aware of this, but we’re going to document it for posterity. While coaches have been figuring out how to maintain team morale over zoom, install new plays over Hudl and execute team practices without contact your wife has had a lot on her plate too.
Coaches’ wives have adjusted to daycares and schools shifting to online schooling while still maintaining jobs, ministries, and volunteer positions. More than that, wives have mourned the loss of seasons, jobs, family, and friends with you.
Coach, we know you are always grateful for your wife. But some years it’s nice to pause and really say thank you. As we start to see signs of “normal life” returning and we all exhale in relief, we want to encourage you to say thank you before the season’s craziness requires you to dive back in full force. (We know you have a lot of catching up to do!)
We’re making things really easy for you coach! We’ve gathered all our best suggestions into one post.
Gift Suggestions for the Coach’s Wife Who Deserves a Huge Thank You
This year we’re getting very specific with suggestions for wives you can use for Mother’s Day, Anniversaries, and birthdays. You may want to bookmark this one!
The Gift of Music and Podcasts
There are some pretty awesome podcasts out there designed specifically to encourage your wife. The Coach’s Wife Podcast is a favorite if you’re curious. But in addition to podcasts when you have a Spotify Premium membership you give the gift of gab and tunes on the go without taking up your phone data. (For $2 more a month you and your wife can both enjoy memberships!)
Get Away or StayCation for Real
We know travel is complicated right now, but if you can find an Airbnb near a spa your wife would love the time away with your undivided attention.
If you can’t find a sitter for the kids or prefer to invest in something for your backyard there’s nothing wrong with a staycation. However, make sure your staycation also includes eating out or GrubHub delivery!
Tips for a Great Staycation:
- No smartphone
- No email
- No working from home
- No cooking
- No cleaning
- No laundry
Consider these Items for a Backyard Staycation that Lasts all Summer:
- Hang in the backyard and read in a free-standing hammock.
- We also love this outdoor futon for two.
- Make s’mores in a firepit.
- Create outdoor seating for evenings with outdoor string lights.
Clothing and Jewelry Are Always a Winner
Over in the Friday Night Wives Marketplace, we also have the opportunity for you to support other coaches’ wives and small business owners. Check out Celia Bella Designs for some jewelry in your team colors. If your wife likes to work out Caylar Harper sells Zyia activewear which is super comfortable and very well made.
As you’re browsing the FNW Marketplace you’ll notice there’s a lot of opportunities for your wife to pamper herself! Whether your wife loves to dive into a new book or likes to pamper herself with spa products you will find a gift for your wife.
Are you on the move? Check out Lavender and Lemonade Design Co. Haylee Pitts custom home decor is beautiful. We are partial to the His Mercies Are New Every Morning sign for this season. But if your wife can always choose her own sign. Haylee also offers gift cards.
Maybe this move has sent your wife into a season of feeling a little lost? Gift her a session with Beverly Phillip. Sometimes the best thing a coach’s wife needs to hear is that her husband believes in her and is cheering her on in the middle of the unknown.
Well, Coach, we hope we’ve given you a few suggestions. We encourage you to bookmark the Friday Night Wives Marketplace and Shop and check frequently because we are always adding new items to both spaces!
Remember you have one more day to order the Summer Bleacher Box!
Resist the urge to fill every moment of dead week with picture perfect memories. Yes, these are the days that we cherish with Coach, but over planning can make dead week a chore.
I can promise you I will go wherever you go, stay wherever you stay, and your people will be my people. I will put in the extra work to get our family settled and make the new place feel like home. I will be open and flexible to wherever this journey takes us.
I can’t promise you I won’t doubt it, complain about it and/or be about upset it. I can’t promise that the thought of having to start over again won’t frustrate me. I also won’t be able to stay off of Zillow, searching for houses, even with only a mention of a potential job opening.
It’s Monday, which means we’re answering another question in our Veteran Coach’s Wife series.
Question From Newbie Wife
Dear Veteran Coach’s Wife,
How do you deal with gender disappointment? We were desperately wanting a boy for so many reasons – I’m a tomboy, I think bows are incredibly ugly, hubby wanted a boy that he could grow up and play football with and coach him, I wanted a mother/son relationship. I thought that once the baby got here, the disappointment of having a girl would go away. It hasn’t and I’m still struggling with having a girl. It’s just not something I ever pictured or wanted. I sincerely always thought we were meant to be boy parents that the thought never crossed my mind we’d be destined for something else. God clearly has jokes. Have any of you ever experienced this disappointment?
I love my daughter but bows are ugly
Answers From Veteran Coaches Wives
My sweet coach was so worried; he’s the youngest of three boys and 110% male. When God gave us a beautiful red-headed, sassy girl for our firstborn, my coach was like, “What if she likes the violin and stuff…” I quickly responded – “Well I am not sure how she would fall in love with the violin in this house -but if she does, I bet you love the violin too.”
Here’s what I can tell you – She is a gift. She will humble both of you. You will marvel at her – no matter who she becomes.
Our little princess got on base more often because she had been hit by the pitch, was a tenacious point guard, a fearless base on the varsity cheer squad, and incredibly impatient when the other girls didn’t understand the rules of whatever game for which she was cheering. Her daddy could hardly ever say no to her and along with her excellent athletic ability, she was able to apply lipstick better than I could by the time she was two. God gave her to you; you will have the time of your life finding out why.
I avoided pink for years with my favorite redhead. I dressed her in baseball outfits, covered the snaps and hats with sunflowers or bows. She loved it, and we adored our ultra-competitive, never-say-lose, sassy, but very caring, fire-cracker.
Lisa Witcher aka Mamawitch
You are not alone and I applaud you for asking this very brave question. Stepping into parenthood is easier for some than others. Having a baby rocked my world and I’m not sure if the gender would have mattered or not. Some people take a while to fall in love with their kids. I like mine way better now that they are big kids instead of babies. I suspect you will like yours more and more as she grows up, whether she ends up being a girly girl or tomboy. I got one of each and watching them grow up eventually made me change and love them more than I believed even though I am not naturally “bent” as a Mom. Hoping great surprises come from the choice God made on your behalf.
He knows what He’s doing.
Children are one of the last mysteries on this planet. Rarely do we raise a child and find that our parenting expectations come true. I’ve never met a parent who says “Oh yes, my kid turned out exactly how I dreamed they would.” In fact, my guess is that if you would think back on your own childhood you’d remember resisting your parent’s helpful directions as you prepared for important life milestones.
We have two sons and even though everyone on both sides of our family determined before their births that they would play football both have actively refused to engage in the sport. Our boys are fun, funny, and exasperating. Just as teenage boys should be, and yet neither will follow in their father’s footsteps.
We love them dearly. Now that they are more independent we also like them. It’s possible you will find you enjoy your daughter more as her personality develops. My encouragement is that you spend each day focusing on that day. There will be many moments you look back on and realize they passed by too quickly.
God has entrusted you with an amazing gift. Enjoy her. She will give you many moments of laughter and tears. Every child does. 😉 PS. I’m linking this wonderful post in case you haven’t had a chance to read it yet. I hope you’ll read “My Football Coach Husband Has Three Daughters—And What a Sweet Gift”
Hang in there,
If you’re like me and have calculated your husband’s hourly rate, you’ve realized coaching must truly be a calling from a higher power. Because ain’t nobody doin’ this gig for the money. You also have had to cut corners and coupons and your own dang hair to figure out how to make it work.
When my coach and I first decided I was going to stay home, he didn’t even have a job yet. He had just graduated from college, and I had been our sole provider for two years. But we were determined to stay debt-free on a single income, so we began trying to figure out how we could financially make that possible.
Here we are many years later. We’re still looking for every way possible to cut costs. So I thought I’d offer you a few creative, but practical, ways we have saved money on his coaching salary.
Let’s start by having a heart-to-heart. I had to come to grips with a few things early on in our marriage (and pretty much every day since), some of which are really hard and some very relieving.
a Few Truths That Make Cutting Costs Easier
- I will not have the cutest _______. Fill in the blank. Clothes. House. Kids’ clothes. Decor. Hairstyle. When I feel myself “needing” something that I can’t afford, I have to remind myself, “In this season, I will not have the cutest _____. And that’s okay.” Sometimes it feels really important (because Pinterest) but if staying out of debt is more important, some of those things just can’t be.
- I am going to have to make some sacrifices. Not just me, but everyone. I am going to have to cook a lot, paint my own nails, buy fewer presents for Christmas, and cut out some “major wants” from our budget. Everyone will still survive. And, dare I say, learn a few valuable lessons along the way.
- In the grand scheme, I am pretty rich. It’s really, really easy to look around and think, EVERYONE HAS SO MUCH MORE THAN US. And lament over all the things we are sacrificing. I mean, let’s be honest. This post could probably be renamed “First World Problems” because the things we are giving up, are usually not, say, food.
- This is (most likely) the poorest we will ever be. Barring outliers, most people make more money the older and more experienced they become. You might have to make a few sacrifices right now but it won’t be like this forever.
So now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s get to it. I’m giving you all the ways I’ve cut costs over the years and I’m including a few from other coaches’ wives as well.
15 Tips to Cut Costs on Coach’s Salary
Don’t buy juice, coke, wine, beer, lemonade, tea. I know, I know. It sounds crazy, but this is one of the biggest ways I have saved at the grocery store. Drink water. Not only is it healthy, but it’s also cheap. (Coffee is a non-negotiable, however. Or everyone dies.)
Buy in bulk.
I use Amazon Prime Subscribe and Save. I buy all my non-perishables through them — diapers, wipes, Ziplocs, trash bags, toothbrushes, face wash, shampoo, soap, detergent, etc. — and have them shipped to me whenever I need more. You get 15% off your entire order if you order 5+ items (20% off diapers and wipes). Yes, there is a Prime yearly subscription, but if I cut out cable (we’ll get to that in a minute), the Prime shows and movies and more than make it worth it. Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial
Use Grocery Store Apps for the Rest of Your Food Purchases.
Ibotta, Fetch Rewards, Coupons.com, and individual grocery store apps all offer opportunities to use coupons without actually clipping a coupon. Use those store apps y’all! If you need products and you can use a coupon that stretches your budget. Plus, take a few minutes after you complete your purchases to scan your receipt with Fetch Rewards and you’ll have a gift card to buy Christmas presents with by the end of the year.
Use cashback for holidays.
I know Dave Ramsey would not approve, but we buy everything on credit cards that have rewards programs. Two years ago, I didn’t pay for a single Christmas present. We had accrued enough points to cover all of them. Last year, we used them to go on a trip for our anniversary. BUT, that being said…
NEVER pay interest (if at all possible).
We pay cash for everything. Pay your credit cards in full every month. When we remodeled our home, we paid cash. When we bought our cars, we paid cash. When we bought a new couch, we paid cash. If you don’t have enough money to buy something, don’t buy it.
Buy necessities for holidays.
At Christmas, use stocking stuffers to buy things your kids already need — socks, underwear, pacifiers, sippy cups — things you would have bought them anyway. Wam, bam. Two birds. One stone. Merry Christmas.
Create Amazon Wishlists
When you don’t live near family you won’t always see them for holidays and birthdays. It never fails that your mind will go blank when someone calls and asks what the kids want for their birthdays. Keep a running list of wants AND needs of various price ranges. That way whenever someone feels like sending the kids a gift they can ship directly and you know it’s something helpful.
Use gifted money for splurges.
This is my chance to splurge on myself. Two years ago, I used my Christmas money to restock my closet. Last year, I used it to redecorate my daughters’ room. This way, nobody questions how much money I am spending and whether or not we can afford it. It’s basically free, right?
Do hair care on the cheap.
MasterCuts and Family Cuts, y’all. Haters gonna hate, but they do good work. Also, box color. In 5 years, you can spend $150 on a haircut & color. But today is not that day. I promise you will look stunning with your $15 ‘do. And for the kids, if you feel confident, do it yourself.
Cut the cord.
It didn’t take us long to realize CABLE IS FREAKING EXPENSIVE. Here’s our solution:
– get a streaming device (we have used AppleTV and FireTV and loved both)
– subscribe to Amazon Prime and/or Netflix and/or Hulu and/or SlingTV (we do Prime and Netflix)
– get an antenna for local channels
Get rid of stuff.
I am always amazed at HOW. MUCH. STUFF we have. Every time we move (once a year, duh), I end up with boxes and boxes of giveaway items. I’ve made some pretty good #cashmoney at places like Swap.com, Craigslist, and Facebook, but there are also the VarageSale and LetGo apps where I have bought stuff… and speaking of….
Second-hand shops (specifically the ones mentioned above) are a great place to find home decor. And did you know, a can of spray paint can work WONDERS.
Find a Friend to Swap Kids Clothes With.
You know there is a mom in your MOPS group or Bible study who has kids growing out of clothes just as your kids are needing them. Find a few friends who can trade clothes around and don’t even bother with setting aside time to shop second-hand. If you’re lucky you’ll even avoid shopping for Halloween costumes and Easter dresses.
Keep a budget.
Budget is not a dirty word. It’s actually very freeing. Bought a new shirt? Don’t worry hubs! I have a $25 clothing budget this month so I’m actually UNDER BUDGET. No arguing. No accusing. Everybody wins. AND GUESS WHAT? There’s an app for that. Mint.com is awesome. This website/app will allow you to import all credit cards and bank accounts so that you can see all your expenses in one place. You can then create budgets and categorize each expense so you know how much you are spending on each category each month. It’s also super convenient during tax season to have everything categorized and searchable. If not for any other reason, make a budget so you can see what you spend most of your money on.
Don’t stop giving.
Budget tithing and giving first. There’s no better way to be reminded of how MUCH we actually have and how faithful God is than by giving sacrificially. Buy gifts for needy children before your own for Christmas. Sponsor a Compassion child. It’s amazing how much further your money goes when you steward it well. There is no better way to live by faith, than by trusting that God will take care of you if you take care of his people.
I am by no means an expert. I still spend an exorbitant amount on groceries, and I have JUST GIVEN UP. I don’t understand coupons. They make me feel stupid and angry.
However, I hope these are somewhat helpful. AND PLEASE if you have ways that you save money, I would love to hear them! I am always interested in how other people cut costs!
“I don’t want you to help me! NO! NO! Don’t touch it!” she screamed as she aggressively jammed the “outie” part of the zipper against the “innie” part of the zipper over and over and over again to no avail.
“Charlee, we have to go. Let’s make a good choice. Would you rather get frustrated and cry or just ask Mommy for help?”
No response as she repeatedly attempted to “DO IT ALL BY MYSEE–EE–LLLL–FF!”
Five minutes later I gathered her limp body off of the living room floor, exhausted from the sobs and the tireless slamming of the jacket against the wall. She had clearly chosen to “get frustrated and cry” as opposed to the alternative, “ask for help.”
Sadly, she gets this from her mother.
I recalled a few months earlier when I had also had my very own “zipper moment.” I had been checking my watch every 38 seconds to see if Clark’s practice was over yet only to realize he wouldn’t be home for 4 hours and 38, no, 37 minutes. Will we all still be alive by then? I could make no such promise. Hattie was 5-months-old and Charlee was 22-months-old and I was done. Mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually DONE.
Charlee was in her room throwing a fit while I sat on the foot of the guest bed holding the littlest one. She was crying, yet again. I was bouncing up and down like a rabbit on 5-Hour-Energy, trying breathlessly to control my aggression, hoping not to approach the threshold for Shaken Baby Syndrome. As I bounced, I remember audibly repeating, “Please. Stop. Crying. Please. Stop. Crying.” Maybe one out of the three of us would listen.
Then my phone rang. It was Clark.
“Hey Babe, I’m gonna be late today.”
I couldn’t get a word out of my throat. I felt a huge knot form and before I could stop he could hear the sobs from the other end of the line. “O…. kay….”
“Has it been a bad day?”
Um. No. It’s been fan-freakin-tastic. Can you hear the two of them? They’re screaming because we’re all having so much fun playing Candy Land and creating educational crafts.
“Call your mom. Tell her to come over. She would love to help you.”
“No seriously. Call her. I’ll leave as soon as I can.”
“O… kay… Bye.”
Ten minutes later my phone rang. This time it was my mom.
“Hey, how ya doing? Clark called and said you might want some help. I’m on my way over right now.”
My husband knows me way too well. He knows my independent, I-CAN-DO-IT-ALL-BY-MYSELF heart would never surrender and actually ask for help. I don’t need help. I am perfectly capable of handling this motherhood thing on my own, thank you very much. I got myself into this gig and I can get myself through it with my teeth gritted and my fists clenched.
I knew my resistance had a lot more to do with pride than I cared to admit. God began to show me that asking for help isn’t a show of weakness but in fact the ultimate sign of strength and humility, the admission that I am not God and I was not created to do this alone.
It’s okay to need help. It’s okay to admit that today has sucked. Hard. It’s okay to need a second to come up for air every now and then. And it’s even okay to call your mom to rescue you… when you’re a grown woman.
In Exodus 17, Moses has just brought the Israelites out of Egypt. But while traveling they are attacked by the Amalekites and forced into battle. Moses, in his old age, heads to the top of the hill with Aaron and Hur while Joshua chooses the strongest men to go down to the battlefield.
Moses raises his staff as his men fight in an appeal to God for help and enablement. “As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning” (Ex. 17:11). Moses is old and tired. An entire battle is a long time to keep your hands raised up in the air. Thankfully, he has help. Verse 12 says, “When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up — one on one side, one on the other — so that his hands remained steady till sunset.”
I also feel old and tired most days. I also feel like there is a battle raging under my roof most days. And I also, like Moses, can see a difference in the outcome of my battle when I hold up my hands in surrender, in an admission that I can’t do this on my own. Sadly, my arms get tired pretty quickly.
God knew they would. He didn’t create me or Moses or you to hold up our hands on our own. He never expected us to fight our battles in isolation.
But I am not Moses. And I lack the humility to admit that I need someone else to bring me a rock to sit on or someone to prop up my hands. So I just watch my army go down in flames because I am too prideful to admit that I need reinforcements.
I need encouragement.
I need validation.
I need coffee.
I need help.
I have plenty of Aarons and Hurs that are willing to prop up my hands and pull up a rock. And so do you.
It’s just a matter of asking.
Note to Reader: In the spirit of CBS This Morning: Letter to a Younger Self we are inviting coaches’ wives to reflect on the milestones of their past and reflect on different lessons they have learned about the coaching life. We are a stronger community when we learn from each other. We can’t wait to hear your story!
Note to Self from a Coach’s Wife
Your idyllic suburban upbringing will take your first challenging life turn in Junior High. Your parents will make the important decision to leave the only church you’ve ever known. This single decision will change your Spiritual development drastically.
You will meet and engage with mentors that will stretch your understanding of God’s character and how you read the Bible. You will meet people who expand your global view. Your friends tell you about their experiences living overseas and open your eyes to the realization that you must research and study things for yourself rather than taking the word of a self-positioned authority. They also plant a sense of adventure within you—a longing to explore new places.
It was a huge step of faith to choose a new church. Your parents trusted God with your unknown future.
Attending church in one community and school in another helps you learn to move through different circles of people with comfort easily. You also realize that friendships run in seasons, and some people are in your life for longer seasons than others. This will teach you that there isn’t a point in wasting time being anyone but yourself.
Just as you’re starting to gather your bearings balancing work friends, school friends, church friends, homework, and responsibilities as a student athletic trainer life you’ll find yourself heading to college for all new experiences.
Always remember your college years were challenging and a lot of fun.
As a freshman athletic training major, your days are spent on the football field. The quietest moments are at football practice, where you quickly fall into the familiar routine from high school. Fill the water bottles, respond to the injury, run through the evaluation, head to the doctor, and start rehab.
The classwork is only half as interesting as the hands-on work, and you find yourself more engaged in your Bible and ministry classes than the classes for your major. By the end of your freshman year in college, you are pursuing two paths. Balancing student staff with Young Life and while still majoring in athletic training, working with different teams, and trying various internships allows you to combine both interests, but your worlds are very separate.
You will pray for a clear path for all your passions to align, and God will show up in amazing ways.
At football practice your Junior year, you will hear a common question from a voice you never hear on the field. “Is it boring watching us practice every day?” And at that moment, you will look down to see a smile on a classmate that always joined in on conversations. He never seemed all that interested in anything more than a casual friendship, but now he’s flirting just a bit, and you don’t mind.
It won’t take long for clear intentions to present themselves. This will include a conversation where you begin to understand that God was not confused when he gave me a passion for ministry and sports. His gift of a partner asking me to consider living on mission every day and use football as a ministry was icing on the cake.
You’ll Learn the Coaching Lifestyle is an Adventure with Heartache
Your dating months will stretch you emotionally and Spiritually. Within the first few months, you will learn what hypocrisy looks like as “friends” now walk past you with looks of disgust.
This is a lesson that will prepare you for future encounters for the rest of your life. You learn to accept that not everyone pursues authentic relationships by seeing your dorm mates now judge you for loving someone different. You’ll rely on your high school and college education in Biblical foundations, doctrine, and hermeneutics affirm your interpretation of Scripture. Developing these foundational truths before marriage will be important as you will face legalistic and racist words and actions your entire marriage.
Your adventurous spirit will be tested
Football will take you all over the State of Illinois and out to the Mountains of Virginia. No move will come when you expect it, yet each will include many important milestones and lessons. You will have seasons of fruitful ministry in every location. Your ministry is always clear, but you will also encounter many who use bully tactics, shame, fear, and Scripture’s weaponizing inaccurately to minimize your ministry opportunities.
Thriving in the Sweet Spot of Your Calling
You will thrive once you have distance from those who declare themselves false authority over your life. Distance will allow healing in the deepest wounds and clarity about God’s character. Each lesson will build on the previous one, and your confidence will grow as the noise of other people’s voices gives way for God’s voice. You’ll learn to walk more consistently with God’s shoulder to shoulder, and as you do, your marriage will thrive.
You won’t avoid conflict; it’s a part of life. But you’ll deal with it more efficiently as you clarify who you are fighting for and how God is calling you to live on mission.
Remember you are always clay in the potter’s hands
There are several references to God’s people as clay in the potter’s hands. But there aren’t any moments where God says he is finished molding the clay. He never says he is finished shaping us. Live like pliable clay. Don’t ever set on a shelf and demand to dry out. You have a unique calling, and you can only fulfill it if you remain teachable, tuned to God’s next adventure.
“Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” Isaiah 64:8
We’ve only moved a few times in our twenty years of coaching, but those moves have been what I define as major moves. We moved from the suburbs north of Chicago, IL, to a southern IL farming community that had two stoplights and one grocery store. Our next move took us fourteen hours east to the Appalachian mountains. From there, we moved to Central IL. We live three blocks from the University of Illinois.
That’s right, friends. After sixteen long years, we’re back in an area with Costco, Aldi, Panera, Target, and an actual mall just around the corner!!! The first day we woke up in our new home in Central IL, I realized we didn’t have anything for breakfast, so I ran to the local Meijer. I spent a good five minutes crying in the produce department before the stock boy asked me if I was okay.
“Me? Oh, I’m fine. I’m just happy and completely overwhelmed.”
It’s HarD to be “the New Family” in town Again
When trying to decide whether we should move, we’ve always tried to obey God’s leading. Each job has different pros and cons, but we learned very early in our marriage that the most important part of any community is the people. The rest is simply icing on the cake but that icing is often difficult to spread around evenly.
When You Move You Need to Start Over
As the new family we start over with a new school to cheer for and a new house to turn into a home. But the changes extend well beyond that. We have to find new doctors, stores, gas stations, schools, churches, clubs, affinity groups, and anything else you need to make your new community work for your entire family.
Starting Over Includes Learning New Traditions
One of our favorite things about living in very different parts of the country is how many community traditions our kids have learned through the years. We’ve eagerly participated in Apple Days, Dairy Days, and Fourth of July parades. We’ve watched the lemon drop at midnight on December 31st. We’ve hunted down free lemonade on Lemonade days and attended the Lemonade Festival.
Our kids have hiked the Southern IL Garden of the Gods and the Southwest Virginia Cascade Falls. They’ve tasted shrimp and grits, fried okra, and compared St. Louis style pizza to Chicago style pizza. They’ve explored museums and zoos all over the country from Kansas City to Minneapolis to North Carolina.
It’s been wonderful, and exhausting. When you’re always learning new traditions it’s difficult to establish reliable family traditions. Sometimes you just need a community to feel like home.
You Can Help Wives Feel Like a Local
You know that feeling you get when you’re driving around your new community without Google Maps for the first time? You feel like a local. You know where things are located! You that feeling you get when you just pull into the gas station without second-guessing if you picked the “right” one?
Did you miss park district sign-ups this year? Not on our watch! We’ve got you covered because we’re creating the Ultimate Coaches’ Wives Resource for Families who Move into a Community.
But we cannot do this without YOU!!!
We’VE Created A Resource Map
We’ve developed a map that we will build out by regions within states. We’re going to feature the most common things you need to know about each area.
- Kids Activities
- What are the best regional hospitals, schools, stores, and coaches’ wives restaurant recommendations
- Which coaches’ wives are in our Market Place by region
- Something important and unique to know about this region
It’s Monday, which means we’re answering another question in our Veteran Coach’s Wife series.
QUESTION FROM A COACH’S WIFE
Dear Veteran Coach’s Wife,
How do you handle your husband’s career and moves always being above your own career goals? How do you not lose yourself once adding kids in the mix who will rely heavily on you more than him with how much he’s gone?
Loving My Career
Answers from Veteran Coaches Wives
Dear Loving My Career,
This is the age-old dilemma for all of us coach’s wives. I was fortunate enough to know before I figured out my career that I would be marrying a coach, so I picked one that was needed everywhere. But even that didn’t make taking a back seat to moves and his career path easy. I’ve seen enough wives not let their coach’s career get in the way of theirs to know it is very possible. But it was a LOT of work and stress for them. When kids came into the picture, I realized just how true the saying “it takes a village” is. You won’t be able to do it all yourself and you won’t be able to rely on coach most of the time.
I thought becoming a stay-at-home mom would ease the burden a little by at least taking job demands and responsibilities out of the equation, but it only increased the “loss of self” aspect I was wrestling with. The truth is there isn’t one answer. It depends on each wife, each coach, each job, and even each stage of life. It’s a constant re-evaluation of your family’s priorities. You will need to decide on what can wait. For us, it’s a constant juggle to make those pieces fit. It’s realizing that there’s no such thing as balance, but instead, it is a sliding scale. When the kids are little, it might have to slide more towards home for you, but that doesn’t mean it’s fixed there. Find your people, and if you can’t find them for free, a reliable babysitter will be worth every penny. Figure out what you want and who you want to be, and be flexible and willing enough to make it work.
Dear Loving My Career,
Dang, this is such a hard part of being a coach’s wife. I think one of the most important things for us was to establish that we both wanted to support one another’s career goals, but that they were going to come at different times. Coaching careers are such a “ladder” and frequently involve moves. My career development, on the other hand, came in fits and spurts between what he was up to. It seems like his career was taking “precedence” but, in all honesty, mine was more flexible than his. I could pick mine up and figure it out wherever we went, he only had so many job choices.
He has absolutely sacrificed too by staying places longer than he wanted, letting me take a lower salary/no salary to return to school, etc. We did make a goal to knock out as much schooling as we could before kids came and that was a great blessing. I don’t feel left behind now, but it took me longer to get here than if I were single or married to a banker who stayed in the same town all his life. But, I don’t think I’ll give him up 🙂
I feel your struggle
Dear Loving My Career,
When my husband and I married close to twenty years ago the career I currently have didn’t exist. Regardless, if I had to write a job description from scratch and make up a job for myself I don’t think I could think of anything more perfect for my skills, gifts, and interests than what I do on a daily basis. The best part is that I work from home and most days I even set my own schedule. But you know what? It took a lot of starts and stops before I found this career path. Every time I started a new job I was positive I’d found “my perfect fit” for a career. I finally realized that I needed to stop trying to force things to fit for everyone else and remember that God knew where he was moving our family and he knew my gifts, strengths, and desires.
The reality is that there are plenty of families that wrestle with balancing family and career that aren’t involved with coaching. There are many decisions to make regarding budgets, what is best for your kids at each stage of life, and what is best for you and your husband mentally, physically, and emotionally. Running around juggling a career and family is exhausting even without coaching!
Marriage is a partnership. We thrive when we both have the opportunity to pursue our passions, use our gifts, talents, and strengths. That doesn’t mean we will always use them in the same way at the same time. I encourage you to take life one stage at a time and look for out-of-the-box opportunities. It’s amazing how many people can job share or work remotely if they ask. Even professors, doctors, and counselors can work remotely these days. Don’t assume you can’t do something forever even if you have to set something aside for a little while it doesn’t mean you can’t keep your skills sharp for the future!
Cheering you on!
Do you have a question?
If you give a coach a scrap of paper, he’s going to want a pen.
When you give the coach the pen, he will draw a play on that scrap paper.
After he draws the play, he is probably going to want a chair to sit down and think about it.
Note to Readers: This post is part of an ongoing series “Dear Veteran Coach’s Wife” and includes one question from a wife submitted anonymously. There are also several responses from veteran wives which offer encouragement, suggestions, and life examples. We can only write from our own personal experiences, but we’re committed to answering honestly and thoroughly to the best of our abilities.
Question from a Coach’s Wife
Dear Veteran Coach’s Wife,
My husband just got offered a position at his DREAM school. He has talked about this being his ideal situation since we were in college. The issue is it’s several hours from my hometown where I’ve lived my whole life and he’s been for the last 7 years of his. We are heavily involved in our community and our church. Everywhere we go we see people we love.
I love my job and it’s difficult to see how sacrificing moving to a smaller community where the cost of living higher and homes are more expensive is the best decision. While I am so happy for him, I can’t picture leaving our lives.
Feeling discouraged, distraught, and like I am truly grieving.
Answers from Veteran Coaches Wives
Dear Discouraged and Grieving,
I have been where you are. We had a nice house in an even nicer neighborhood. I had gotten a job less than five minutes away teaching a grade with no testing and at a school with major and administration parental support. Both our families were in the area, and I finally felt content-even-happy- in my job. And then my husband got offered his first head baseball position. Four hours away. We honestly knew it was a God thing as He worked out the details seamlessly, but I did cry the entire way home after seeing the tiny town and having four job interviews in one day. But we had a peace about it so we packed up and moved. It wasn’t easy but God allowed it to happen. This was before kids.
When we got there, I was in a job that I did not prefer, I got pregnant right away, four hours from anyone we knew, and he started working seven days a week for the first time as assistant football. It was an awful year, I won’t lie. However, a lot of it was my attitude. I was exhausted, pregnant for the first time, hours from friends and family, and almost an hour from civilization [aka Target or Starbucks]. I became very bitter and resentful. This is probably not encouraging you right now but have faith.
We thought we would be there a year or two but stayed four before the next move. We got plugged into a church that we still miss and made lifelong friendships. We got to live in a wonderful rental house with dreamy views for two of those four years.
It was hard. I cried a lot. But I know God had his hand in it as well. I would pray about it apart and together. Leaving what you know and love is always hard-and yes, a true grieving process. But God walks next to you, and He sends who and what you need when you need it. I will be praying for guidance and clear direction and also that your heart is softened once you get there. If your husband has been waiting on this and God is opening the door, then it will be worth it.
Best of luck,
Been there, done that, and He provided
Dear Feeling discouraged, distraught, and truly grieving,
While I cannot guarantee that every coach’s wife’s journey will be the same, I can offer you the benefit of hindsight from 13 years after going through a similar scenario. When I met and married my coach, I swore that I was never, ever, ever leaving my hometown. I agreed to go wherever the job took us, but spent every second praying and plotting how to make it possible for him to move up in his career while staying put.
I too couldn’t see how me sacrificing everything I’ve ever known and pretty much everybody I’ve ever loved for his dream could be a good decision. But, after all these years and all this time, I can see that I wasn’t doing it for him, not really. It was all for me. I’ve met a lot more people in a few new places that I grew to love, found more communities that I could give my heart and support to, and a completely different job that ignited a fire in me that I had no idea was even possible. I am not the same person I was in my hometown, and it’s 100% for the better.
I’m not saying it was without challenges or heartbreak. There were in fact many, many, many of both. But, if I had the option to make the decision to leave all over again, I would go- hands down, without question (this time, the first time involved a lot of hesitation and questioning.) While I’m not saying that moving is necessarily your answer, I’m just offering a few points to ponder. Is it possible that you might not know what’s best for you? Could it be that you are giving up good for great? Would it be possible for your heart to grow bigger and stronger to include new people, new places, and a different life?
Wishing you all the love and clarity needed to make this difficult decision,
Dear Discouraged and Grieving,
The best things in life often start out scary! Your situation sounds so familiar to me and to so many others. After living away from my family for so many years we finally moved to the same town as my parents with our first baby. And one year later my husband was offered a job he wanted so badly that was 8 hours away. I did not want to pick up and move again that soon. I was so happy with my job and having my parents close by to babysit but eventually, I let my husband drive me across the state to check it out. I went with every intention of seeing everything in person to convince my husband this wasn’t the right move for us. The joke was on me because we both signed letters of intent less than 24 hours later. Then everything quickly fell into place, our house sold in three days and three weeks later we loaded up and made it to our new community. This move has been our best yet, the school district is the best we’ve ever worked in and we have made some amazing friends.
This move showed me that you can’t fight God’s plan or his perfect timing. If your husband is being pulled so strongly towards this opportunity, crack your heart open just a little and see where it leads.
Been There Done That
Dear Feeling Discouraged,
Dang, this is hard. Leaving comfort and family is no small consideration. I’ll share what I’ve learned through our experiences. We were in a great situation when my husband was recruited for a coveted job. Leaving our people was awful, and our experience in the new place was…awful. In fact, we eventually got fired. Sounds like it was the wrong decision, right? Except, when I was moved out of my/our comfort zone, I flourished in ways I never expected. It was as though being uncomfortable in our lives made me braver as a person. In fact, it’s how I ever left my comfy profession and became a writer.
Truly, I have no idea if you should move. Coaches tend to have itchy feet so I would wonder if you don’t take this one if he’ll look for others as time goes on that are less “dreamy”? Regardless, whatever you choose, pray that you choose it together and be all in as a couple leaving or all in as a couple staying. And, that you flourish as a person in your current situation, or in the less desirable one. We’ve had awesome situations and sucky situations and God has sustained us in both. He goes (or stays) wherever we are.
I’ll end with this, a blog post I wrote about (yet another move) loving where we were but also missing the last place. I hope my post Learning to Grow Love Plants blesses you.
Sister Who Has Been Stretched
Do you have a question?
Dear New Wife Who Touched My Heart,
As a coach’s wife in an interracial marriage who will celebrate my twentieth anniversary this summer, I wanted to let you know how much I’ve appreciated your boldness over the past few months. I’m not sure you realize how brave you are, but as someone who has spent a few decades hearing her marriage is something God frowns on simply because of the color of my skin, well, I think you’re courageous.
I’m not the only one. I happen to have the unique position of seeing the analytics for the Friday Night Wives website and social media, and your blog posts are some of the most viewed, even if they don’t seem to receive a lot of public interaction.
Crystal, you said the quiet parts out loud. But, then again, it seems that you’ve had quite the unwelcoming start to your young marriage. I’m sorry for that. I wish I could stay things will get easier; however, you are facing situations that haven’t changed in at least two decades.
Just like you, I can only share my experiences. I’ve been around the football world a little longer than you, so I thought it might be helpful to let you know that you are seen and heard. My heart broke as you shared with the world what I’ve known for two decades. Interracial couples are prevented from pursuing jobs in certain communities because the towns aren’t accepting of a couple’s love.
The issue for black coaches runs much deeper than who they choose to marry. The most difficult part is that much of this could change if coaches treated each other with the same respect they hope to receive from others.
Unequal Hiring Practices
As a head football coach at the college level, I’ve stood next to my husband and heard every rationale as to why white coaches were passed over for the positions my husband received.
- The college needed to meet a diversity quota
- The college thought minorities would stay longer with a black head coach
- The college was looking to diversify the campus as part of a long-term plan
- The white coach would have been hired if they applied but knew the college wanted to look at minorities, so they didn’t apply
Every statement assumed my husband received his job because of the color of his skin. They ignored his resume, experience, and football knowledge. Yet those same coaches have no problem acknowledging they received most of their coaching jobs because of who they knew and the people who hired them when they were promoted.
I’ve often wondered if these same men walk up to random white coaches and say things like, “Oh yeah, I was going to apply for that job, but I knew the school had a white hiring quota to meet.”
The intention may not be to imply that a black coach isn’t qualified for the job they have, but that is exactly what happens. It’s a bold assumption for someone to determine if they know a stranger’s resume or know they are a better interviewer and understand the school’s hiring needs!
And to be clear here, hiring quotas don’t actually exist. Only in the NFL are they required to interview minority coaches. Nowhere does it say anyone must employ anyone.
Every year USA Today releases the salaries for the head coaches for the NCAA Head Coaches. Here’s the list of NCAAF Coaches as of November 2020, and here’s the list of NCAA Basketball Coach Pay as of March 2021.
Of course, it’s challenging to have a conversation about fair pay when the head coaches’ percentage is so low. The Louisville Courier-Journal explains:
Of the 1,073 head coaches in NCAA sports at Power Five programs, only 79, or 7.4%, are Black.
Of the 65 Power Five schools, 15 do not employ a single Black head coach in any NCAA sport, though seven of those schools do have at least one other head coach of color.
Safety When Traveling
For years we have had to remind our sons they don’t have to privilege of wearing their hoods up when they are walking outside regardless of how cold it is. We tell them they can’t touch items on store shelves they think are interesting or put their hands in their pockets when walking through a store.
Now, with a child preparing to drive, I find myself rehearsing an extensive list of warnings. “Remember, if you get pulled over, keep your hands visible at all times. Don’t open the car door, don’t make sudden movements, and always speak respectfully.” I try to speak in a calming tone because I don’t want to increase the already present fear.
But there’s another layer to the concern that I hold as a coach’s wife married to a black coach. Whether during the recruiting season or while in charge of a bus full of athletes, there have been times when I’ve found myself momentarily filled with anxiety. What if the wrong person is driving this week? What if Ordell pulls off at the wrong stop while recruiting? What if he booked a hotel in the wrong area?
These questions may seem silly however they started from a personal experience. An administrator of a previous college gave me a map before a road with a list of towns to avoid when traveling with my sons.
What Can We Do?
Crystal, I know that this post may affirm your experiences. But it could also leave you feeling hopeless if I don’t offer some suggestions on how to get through the difficult moments. Of course, nothing is foolproof, but I’ve found that the best thing I can do is listen. My husband has dealt with the challenges of life as a black man in America his entire life. As his partner, it’s my job to hear him and strive to see his side of a situation just like I want him to do for me.
Next, I spend a lot of time praying. God is the God of justice. In the book of Amos, God tells the Prophet that the Israelites are going to face divine intervention. God is bothered by the Israelites practice of religion without righteousness. By oppressing the poor and failing to practice justice, the Israelites were behaving unrighteously; justice was to be enacted as a core of God’s message in Amos’ prophetic teachings.
Amos Chapter 5 reveals this. A few of my favorite verses to pray are:
- For the Lord says to the house of Israel: Seek me and live!
- Those who turn justice into wormwood also throw righteousness to the ground.
- 14-15. Pursue good and not evil so that you may live, and the Lord, the God of Armies, will be with you as you have claimed. Hate evil and love good; establish justice at the city gate.
- But let justice flow like water, and righteousness, like an unfailing stream.
I stay connected to community that strives to value all coaches equally. I make sure my husband has the resources and community he needs. We can’t shoulder these things by ourselves. There are times when I send a voxer message to a girlfriend who understands my stress because she shares it. Find these friends and hold them close.
I’m grateful for your willingness to speak up. I hope you’ll keep sharing your story. Just know that as difficult as your walk is right now, these moments may lighten up and flare up again. There is a community of women who have been in your shoes. Our experiences vary, but our advice comes from the heart.
Check out these resources:
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.
But nothing and I mean nothing, would get my goat like that handsome, brown-eyed man pointing his finger at me, raising his voice to that disappointed, irritated coach tone and speak condescendingly to me like I just ran the wrong route even after we drilled and drilled it in practice.
Note to Readers: This post is part of an ongoing series “Dear Veteran Coaches’ Wives” and includes one question from a wife submitted anonymously. There are also several responses from veteran wives which offer encouragement, suggestions, and life examples. We can only write from our own personal experiences, but we’re committed to answering honestly and thoroughly to the best of our abilities.
Question From A Newbie Coach’s Wife
Dear Veteran Coaches’ Wives,
How do you, as assistant coaches or a coordinators’ wife, fit into the mix when you want to be more involved with the team but don’t want to step on the head coach’s wife’s toes?
Just trying to avoid stepping on our HCW’s toes….
Answers from Veteran Wives
Dear Trying to Avoid Toes,
Sister, your heart for other service and respect will get you far in the world of school sports! First, do you have a relationship with the head coaches’ wife? If not, get that started first by inviting her to meet you for coffee or to take a walk. Then, ask directly—“I would love to do ____, but I’m concerned about stepping on your toes. If I did ____, would that cross a boundary?” A face-to-face conversation is a great way to make sure you are both certainly on the same page.
Love Your Heart,
Dear Trying to Avoid Toes,
It is amazing that you want to serve right alongside your husband! I am right there with you! I’m going to assume other wives around you are not involved, and the HC’s wife is doing everything by herself.
With that assumption, why don’t you ask her to lunch or coffee? At the girl’s date, express to her how you would like to get more involved. Ask her directly what specific activities she needs help with. Make sure you tell her your heart’s desire to serve along with your coach.
If she does not have anything specific to suggest, make sure she understands that you would love to help in any way if something comes up. I would also ask her permission for anything specific you want to do for the team, like goody bags or making signs for the locker room. One thing of note, if she asks for help, be there.
In my experience, there is a reason why she is doing all things. Somewhere someone along the way has hurt her or let her down. She might be guarding her heart against that pain again. Trust is hard to earn when you don’t know someone, and you have experienced pain. Don’t take this personally, because girl, you are different! Once she sees that, hopefully, it will get better!
Dear Trying to Avoid Toes,
I love cooking for my man, and he loves it when I cook. At our school, our varsity coaches also serve as junior varsity coaches. Often on Monday nights, practice ends fifteen minutes before the JV kids and coaches have to get on a bus to go to a JV game. I make meatball sandwiches or something easy to grab and take with them as they get on the bus.
The sandwiches are easier to warm up in the microwave, or they are delicious cold. I feel like I am contributing without competing with anyone else. As soon as another wife said, “Hey, can I take a Monday!?” I was eager to have help. I always snuck in quietly, left the sandwiches when I really wouldn’t be seen or made a fuss over because it wasn’t about me, right? It was about serving my guy and the guys with whom he serves. Maybe your quiet service starts a conversation about how y’all as a group can do other service projects.
Lisa Witcher aka Mamawitch
Dear Trying to Avoid Toes,
I have been a head coach’s wife more than any other role. Here are my quick answers:
- Think about your desires, skills, giftings, etc., and how you would like to be involved. If you are on the team, that means you are part of the team, and you have something to give that may compliment the head coach’s wife’s gifts and talents, and desires or they may be different!
- Ask her how you can help. Some wives will have more of an answer for you than others. Maybe there are practical things and maybe she will just say sit next to me and be nice (that would be my answer 🙂 I can’t imagine turning down someone who wants to be helpful.
- Just straight say the fear, “I don’t want to step on your toes so…” and let her know what your desires are. I’d be kissing you and saying that despite my abnormally large feet (size 13, really) I am not easily offended and happy to support you in whatever you’d like to do.
From an HCW who Loves Help
Dear Trying to Avoid Toes,
We’ve made a few assumptions in our answers above so I’ll go a different way with my response. There are some situations where a head coach’s wife is insecure in her role or doesn’t believe in the ministry of coaching.
It’s wise to avoid conflict on a coaching staff whenever you can, so I applaud you for that, however, I hope you won’t stifle your passions or gifts just to avoid a conflict. If you’ve attempted to help the head coach’s wife or had your offers met with resistance don’t give up.
I encourage you to create a specific list of ways you want to serve the team and have your husband ask the head coach if he has a problem with you and your husband together investing in your position group together. With the head coach’s blessing, you have the freedom to do whatever you want.
Remember, coaching is your husband’s job, and conflict with wives can trickle into the staff. So make sure you keep serving the kids with the right heart the focus and protect the home team.
Don’t Stifle Your Calling!
Do you have a question?
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.
I can hear my voice calling out to my son playing in the summer heat in the backyard way past his bedtime.
I can feel the rush of excitement when my stepson and stepdaughter run up the brick steps, fling open the front door at Thanksgiving Break, and call out to us, “we’re home!”
And I know because my family will feel at home here, that I will be just fine starting over too.