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.
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.
Note to the Reader: To read the first part of Crystal’s story read I Married a Black Coach; This is My Story
As coach wives, we support our Coach through the plethora of emotions that come along with coaching. We listen when he comes home at an ungodly hour venting about a frustrating practice. We are a springboard for new ideas on drills or plays. We console him after a tough loss.
We put Coach in check when he needs a dose of reality, and we get the privilege of sharing with him the many, many joys of this profession. The words and actions that I provide for my coach in most situations are, I am guessing, similar to those that every other coach wife presents to her over-worked sweetheart. However, in some situations, I have found myself at a loss of how to provide my Black Coach with the support he needs, specifically where jobs are concerned.
Throughout our journey together in coaching (he’s been in the game for a while but I’m a new-ish coach wife), there have been a few, distinct times when I could clearly see that Coach needed support from me, but I just did not know what to say or do.
What am I supposed to say when he tells me that we can’t take that job because that community isn’t accepting of interracial relationships? Or, that he isn’t even sending in his resume to certain places because he has heard that Black coaches don’t get a fair shakedown there when it comes to upward mobility?
And, let me be clear, it’s not like he was trying to replace Dabo or Saban, ya’ll. We are talking about logical, practical, qualified career choices that he was opting out of simply because of the color of his skin.
What do I say to that?
How do I respond?
Do I encourage him to ignore the prejudice and go hard after his dreams?
Or do I listen to and trust in his wisdom where racial issues are concerned?
(After all, as a white woman, my knowledge and experience on this topic are quite limited).
I have been stunned, and frustrated, and angered, and hurt watching my Coach navigate through this bigotry that, I am guessing, white coaches do not have to experience because, you know…privilege. There is really no other way to describe it.
As always, I am speaking solely from my own experiences and observations, nothing else. I am not claiming that my experiences are true for all, but they are definitely true for me and my Coach. Supporting my husband is part of what I am called to do as his wife and as his partner. For me, learning to support him through racial issues that are intertwined with his passion, his mission, and his calling is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done.
When I put up the 2021 calendar, I craved the normal. I hopefully added remaining basketball games and projected track meet dates. In pencil, I wrote in gymnastics meets and volleyball games. I tentatively scribbled in some vacation possibilities with fingers crossed. I wanted our usual back and yet, I knew, I would eventually yearn for the unusual.
6. Bring a friend.
This is for the older ones, but bringing one of your kid's friends along is easy entertainment. Occasionally, it'll be closing in on the end of the fourth, and I'll have no idea where a kid is because they've been playing somewhere with their friend.
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.
I, Mr. Coach, promise to:
Recognize that this woman is an actual superhero and treat her as such
When she is sad just hold her, don’t coach her
Make a valiant effort to not wait until the last minute to ask for something
Brag about her to my friends
Get her swag asap, especially at a new school
In a spare moment, keep the kids and send her out on her own
Remember that she is the one who is still there when the lights go out and the career is done
Love on my kids after wins AND losses
Consider that your career moves are her moves too
Find her before talking to the media
Recognize that I am a better coach because she is by my side
Yes, we are moving Lord, but You are already there, just as You are here. It is such a comfort that we cannot escape the cover of Your love, no matter how far we move.
Great is thy faithfulness...even when I feel alone and unknown.
Great is thy faithfulness...even when the unwanted diagnosis appears.
Great is thy faithfulness...even when Coach’s contract is not renewed.
Great is thy faithfulness...even when there is no heartbeat.
Great is thy faithfulness...even when your closest friend is unfaithful.
Great is thy faithfulness...even when they curse your name from the sidelines.
Comparison is the thief of joy. But that new wife can’t help but compare herself to the “ideal” coach’s wife.
Veteran, you know by now that there is no true mold for a “good coach’s wife.”
But she is trying to figure out what that looks like. She may feel inadequate if she doesn’t have the time or mental space to bake cookies or cook meals for the team.
But as I begin to break down and cry out to my God, I’m reminded of this truth: I am not alone.
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.
Don’t let anyone give you grief for doing what’s best for you.
In this super fast “Two Minute Drill” she shares a favorite devotional, some sage advice for newbies, her game day must have (not what you’d expect), and a lot of laughs.
The field house is home. I don’t know why we pay utility bills during the fall, because we are hardly home to use water and electricity. My husband puts more hours in at the field house than I see him in our own home.
Keep at least a three foot radius clear around coach any time he has a whistle. It is in his DNA twirl it repeatedly around his fingers. Extra caution should be taken if he also has his many, many school keys.
I see you trying to figure out how to be the best employee and cheer your man on at the same time. It’s impossible to be in two places at the same time. Don’t feel guilty. You are doing the best you can.