You know that feeling when you are THIS close to something only to have it not happen for some reason or another?
You’re almost finished paying off the credit card only to see that hospital bill in the mailbox.
You missed that 'A' by one test question.
Your laundry was done then your coach brought in the pile of clothes from his truck.
The dishes were done but….oh, wait, these people expect to eat again?
You lost five pounds but the McRib is back (just me?!).
This season, our first football season as a coaching family, ended just nine points shy from going to the state championship game. Nine. Points. It’s so easy to sit and revisit every aspect of the game. If x, y, and z hadn’t happened, then a, b, or c could have happened. The fact is, though, it’s over. It’s done. Nothing can change it, and no amount of talking about it can bring it back.
An undefeated, district championship season as the number one seed in the state ended in the semifinals, short just nine points. It is absolutely heartbreaking for the boys, coaches, and everyone else who was invested in the season. We were THIS close.
But we have gained so much more than a trip to the state championship. We have seen a community rally behind its team, all but turning off the street lights in their little town with a big heart when it was time to travel for a game.
We’ve seen a group of young men that had a record of 1-9 as freshmen improve to see an undefeated 13-0 season.
We’ve seen the bleachers packed week after week in a show of support for a team who had not made a semifinal run in sixteen years.
We’ve seen senior players attend the head coach’s kindergartener’s birthday party.
We watched as those same seniors left their cleats on the field after their last game.
We’ve spent our weeks with the other coaching families who quickly became friends.
We’ve watched marriages be tested, listened to kids cry, helped each other through it all, and even made matching shirts.
The season has been called magical by local newspaper articles, and we know that it certainly has been. We are beyond proud of all of the hard work and dedication we’ve seen put into the season and know that next season will come with winning expectations from our fans, our players, and our coaches. We know that others will want to see us lose, but that is ok too. We love a good dog fight.
Our family has also reaped the rewards. My husband is finally happy to be doing what he loves for a living and has enjoyed his first taste of small town football: riding in the homecoming parade, a free cup of coffee after a big win at the local donut shop, and many pats on the back.
I’ve gained a new tribe in my fellow coaches' wives and learned to ask for help when I need it. I even paid babysitters for the first time instead of relying on family members. My kids have their dad at home every night instead of every other week.
Our three-year-old loves watching the big girls cheer and dance. Our two-year-old sleeps with a helmet and a ball and wakes up talking about the “ball game”. Our family feels strangely settled and calm in the middle of the crazy. We have adjusted to our new routines and schedules, learned to say no, communicated much better than before, and, honestly, lowered our expectations in a few ways.
We may have been THIS close to going to state this year, but the experience has made our family THAT much better.
At the end of the day, at the end of this magical season, we know THIS is where we are meant to be.