It's A Family, Until It's A Business

It's A Family, Until It's A Business

Most people, even those not in the sports industry, see the side of this life that is one big family.

They see our husbands leading, shaping, and guiding the players like they are their own children.

They see us as coaches' wives, cheering, supporting, and encouraging the entire team like we are the matriarchs.

They see all of our children running circles around the players, the other coaches, and their wives like cousins who see each other every week (if not more).

But unless you're in the sports industry, you probably don't know that it IS a family, but only until it's a business. If a change "needs" to be made or jobs are on the line, it can turn to "what is best for the program" or, even worse, every man for themselves.

I am sure we all can still feel the first time we learned that lesson, whether it was a few months or 16 years ago.

I am sure that it has happened more than once and that it won't be the last time. But just like your first heartbreak, that initial lesson is seared into your soul and something you will likely never forget.

With or without realizing it, the walls go up around your heart. You protect yourself at the cost of relationships with new people and places.

I say this with only 100% understanding and not even an ounce of judgment. But I hope to convince you that, even if you can't forget, it is worth letting it go.

Our first time centered around a scenario in which we were told that the head coach was taking us with him when he left. He promised us a place at the new school, but the follow-through wasn't there. And neither was an explanation, at least not an honest one.

In an instant, a relationship filled with personal connection and affection became strictly professional, marked by coldness and devoid of loyalty.

Because I was sensitive to the path that never was, I have been able to see what could have been. And I have been able to appreciate how the path we ended up going down was far better.

I was able to deconstruct the walls brick by brick that first lesson caused me to put up by seeing and appreciating that the path we took was meant for us.

We weren't delayed or detoured by the business end of this lifestyle. God simply used other people's decisions to lead us, especially when we didn't necessarily want to go.

I recently stared into the eyes of the one who taught us this lesson the first time. I discovered that I was still holding it so close to my heart. Even though the walls came down, a cloud of dust from the demolition lingered on the surface.

It didn't prevent me from creating relationships in the new places, but it definitely clouded them.

It was clear that this person had never given us or the situation a second thought since it happened. That freed me from what was left of the smoke.

Now that my coach has been a head coach for almost five years, I have watched him navigate situations where he had to tell hard truths to people we love and consider family.
I wonder if, because of that initial lesson, he has been able to portray family in a more authentic way. Maybe he has become more sensitive thanks to it, so he tries the best that he can to do better. 

I have realized that if handled honestly and respectfully, this lifestyle doesn't have to become a business. It is STILL a family, just one with open communication that speaks truth in love.

Not every program and coach has learned to operate this way. So, tearing down the walls around your heart may mean it will break again. And don't think that letting the dust settle is a layer of protection either.
It just prevents people from seeing your heart and giving them the chance to turn a business into a real family.


Jess Gilardi is a lacrosse coach’s wife living on the East Coast. They have three young kids and have been living this life since 2004. She was a mental health therapist in the school system before becoming the full time chaos coordinator for the family (a.k.a. stay-at-home mom). Jess started writing, hoping that by sharing her stories and lessons learned, she might help others learn “the easy way.”
Back to blog