i married a black coach; this is my story

I Married a Black Coach; This is My Story

Sports have been said to be one of the world’s most level playing fields. Talent, drive, hard work, and performance supersede almost all else most of the time; at least where players are concerned.

Yes, athletes are, generally speaking, judged mostly on their ability to execute and win games.

But does this performance-based evaluation extend into the realm of coaching? Considering football, my answer is no. 

I am a white woman who is married to an African-American high school football coach in the South.

I grew up watching football and loving sports. I was one of those girls who followed ESPN and knew about recruiting classes and player statistics when I was in high school and college. Not so much these days because, you know … life… but I was once “her.”

Even though I followed football so closely, it wasn’t until I was with my husband that I realized the severity of systemic racism in coaching football across all levels. 

Notice what I said—systemic racism. This does not necessarily mean that coordinators, head coaches, administration, boards, general managers, owners, etc are all deep-seated bigots. No, that is not systemic racism.

This term is for racial inequalities that are embedded into a society so deeply that one can have no racial prejudices personally and still be an active participant and even benefit from the institutionalized oppression already in place.

I know because it was me.

Before I was with my husband, the thought that football, of all things, upheld racial inequalities never crossed my mind.

Think about it, when we watch on Friday nights, or Saturdays, or Sunday afternoons there are lots of black and white participants on the field. But what about leading the sideline? Or in the press box? Or in the office? Or even better yet, in those swanky club boxes (or wherever the owners sit). Where is the diversity in those places?

I am sad to say that, through my own ignorance, these questions never crossed my mind before I became not just a coach’s wife, but a black coach’s wife.

My claims are based solely on my observations and personal experiences.

No fancy scientific or social experiments have been performed. But let’s be real, we don’t need any of those for proof.

Truth be told, there are about a million different angles from which to analyze this complex issue and twice as many statistics and facts and figures I could throw out to prove that this is real, but you can Google all of that (and, if you are honest with yourself, you probably already know it’s true).

My goal is simple: a conversation that hopefully leads to the first step—admission. Admitting that systemic racism is alive and well in one of the most popular sports and lucrative businesses in our country on all levels.

Admitting that the color gap between the end zone and the upstairs offices is miles wide and decades deep.

And admitting that over time, without knowledge, hatred, or prejudice, white coaches and the like have long benefitted from an institutionally racist system.

After all, the first step on the road to recovery is admitting there is a problem, right? 

What Is A Coach’s Wife

What is a Coach’s Wife?

To anyone outside of the sports industry, I’m sure you’re thinking to yourself “What is a coach’s wife?” “Why does she identify and define herself by her husband’s job?” Well, if you haven’t had the pleasure of getting to know a coach’s wife, it might be hard to get it. It’s not just cute game day tees, making goodies bags, and cheering in the stands.

It’s Good

It’s “Hey babe, I forgot my lucky khakis. Can you drop them off at the field house?” only to not know which one of the 50 pairs he’s referring to. 
It’s pacing back and forth in the stands, muttering under your breath and/or bursting into screams, all while managing to keep the kids entertained and well behaved (and wearing your lucky game day tee.)

It’s a hug and a kiss after an exhilarating win or a longer, tighter hug after a heartbreaking loss and lending a supportive ear to go over the rights and the wrongs either way.

It’s having a large extended family that will be there for you in an instant when you need it, without question or hesitation. And vise versa. 

It’s Hard

It’s “I’m sorry, I know I said that we could go to that, but something’s come up. I have to go into work.”It’s biting your tongue and turning the other cheek when someone in the stands says “What was that? Why would he call that play? Does he even know what he’s doing?!”

It’s getting asked a lot “What does he do in the off-season?” “Coaching is a full time job?” And “What do you mean he can’t take the day off to come to my <insert event here>?!”

It’s “Hey babe. So, there’s this unbelievable opportunity that came up. What would you think about moving (again)?”

It’s Impossible

It’s a heartbreaking debate as to whether you go support your husband at his game or stand in his absence at your child’s event.

It’s having a heart big enough so there’s room for so many players, their parents, schools and towns, but strong enough to not break when it’s time to leave them.

It’s a faith strong enough to go through weeks or months of every year staring down the uncertainty of what the future holds and knowing whatever happens will be for your good.

It’s not knowing how you’ll make it through another game, another season, or another move, but digging deep to find the will and the way.

It’s Everything

It’s more than just a game or just a sport. It’s more than winning or losing. It’s more than just supporting and consoling.

It’s handling all the personal logistics, so coach can focus on the program ones. It’s packing and selling the old house, and saying goodbye to the friends and memories made. It’s unloading and settling into the new house, and getting out into the next community to plant seeds.

It’s fading into the background of someone else’s dreams and not getting overcome by the darkness, but instead finding your glow in the silver lining. It’s not playing an active role in the decisions that affect your life but being flexible and open to what may come. It’s going where you’re called, but not necessarily where you want. 

It’s hard times and beautiful ones. It’s stressful times and uplifting ones. It’s uncertain times and adventurous ones. It’s the times that are part of the game plan and the last-minute Hail Mary ones.

We don’t start out as coach’s wives. The road to becoming one is bumpy and complicated. It’s not that a coach’s wife is defined by her husband’s job, but that she is refined by it.

Meet JD Doty

Two Minute Drill with JD Doty

Join “Friday Night Wives” every Thursday as we interview a different coach’s wife with rapid fire questions. This is the Coaches’ Wives version of a “Two Minute Drill”

This week, we’re getting to know JD Doty. JD is the Friday Night Wives graphic designer and she’s also the founder of Harpo Graphics, and co-owner of Hank and Scoot Wholesale Line, Phew!

Make sure you never miss a Two Minute Drill by subscribing and today!

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