He’s worked almost every Saturday since August 1st, and now we are here.
It quickly reminds me of my favorite Christmas movie, White Christmas. Not that it even compares to being a general in the Army, but the song “What do you do with a general when he stops being a general?” quickly comes to mind.
What do you do with a coach when the season ends?
From a range of 14 to 17 weeks of always preparing, working 8-5 on Saturdays or Sundays, watching film every free second at work or home, rewinding college games to add plays to your playbook, running things through his mind to see if they might work, reflecting on each and every play called or made…
And now we are here.
No film to watch
No plays to record
No practice to prepare for
No plays or routes to plan
No equipment to prepare
No game day to get excited about
No games to be late to
No concession stand visits
No red footballs to catch
No runs to Daddy on the field
No postgame hugs and kisses
Nobody prepares you for this moment, and even doing this for 10 seasons and two sports, I never really know how to handle this part.
This part is grief, and to some, that may sound silly, but that’s what I call it.
I am really good at encouraging and cheering on during the season. I’m good at sitting through games and juggling our circus. I’m good at making sure he has breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day.
But when it comes to this point, I am always at a loss. It’s so hard to fill the spot football fills at our house. We get excited about Friday night lights and are consistently humming the music from the band. We love spending time with our Cougar family in the stands and after games.
What do we do now on a Friday night? Friday seems empty.
The reality is that it is difficult because we all need time for reality to set in. It’s over. It’s hard for us because all of a sudden, he is back in full family life mode. We are incredibly grateful for it, but it takes time for everyone to adjust.
It takes time for me to pivot and be able to ask for help.
It takes time for him to realize what role he can play now in our everyday life.
It’s not that he wasn’t part of it before, but life was different during the rough and tumble of the season.
It takes time for us to really fit like a perfect puzzle again.
When you’ve thought about preparing for practice and games for the last 120 days… it’s hard to just stop.
It seems impossible not to think back on what could have been different or changed.
It’s tempting for him to rewatch the film from the last game, the game that could have taken us to the next round.
It’s hard not to replay those voices of disappointment after the last game.
There are memories and moments from the entire season that are stuck in our minds. Good ones and bad, things you are glad not to do again, and things you will truly miss.
There is grief when it ends. It sounds silly to many, but that’s what we call it.
This part of the season is never fun. It’s always hard to push through and never something I can prepare for. In these moments, I have to remember to take a few more seconds to hug him a little tighter, provide a little more grace, and remember he wants to be wanted or needed.
Remember those instances in the season:
You really longed for a night away with Coach!
You wanted to have an actual conversation with him in person!
When the kids just wanted Daddy to put them to bed!
Pull those feelings from deep within that you’ve tried so hard to ignore all season long because you just knew it was football season. Use those feelings to embrace the starting over when the season ends. Allow those feelings to let yourself be grateful for the time that has come before the next season begins. Take these weeks as a gift and energy to push you into the next season.
You were made to be his cheerleader and his biggest fan. That doesn’t come easy during or after the season. Just remember, you were made for this!