Dear New Coach's Wife,
I remember being where you are. I was a baseball player's girlfriend and coach's fiancé before I became a coach's wife.
A lot of this won’t be new to you. You’ve been living this “coach’s life” for a couple years now so you know coaches are a special breed. The true coaches are in the thick of it. They can't walk away from this game even if they try.
They thrive on helping form young men through the game they love, and it's with that knowledge that I hope to share with you what I wish someone had shared with me, many years ago... the good, the bad, and the ugly... in reverse order:
The Ugly Side of Coaching
The ugly side of this life is that not everyone will love your husband like you do. Not always, but on occasion, they’ll argue, they'll whisper, they'll holler from the stands . . . and you will just about bite a hole through your tongue.
They will say it's not personal and to them, maybe it's not. Maybe they don't understand the background of the coaching decisions. Maybe it's change. Maybe it’s holding on to the last bits of high school that are slipping away. So maybe it's not personal . . . to them.
However, it will become very personal to you. You will see it all. You’ll see the phone calls and texts that don't stop once practice is over. You'll see him agonizing over a player who may be going down a wrong path. You'll see him poring over books and videos and strategies to help kids reach their full potential.
He will do those things without thinking because that’s who he is.
And so, when somebody yells something stupid without thinking, it becomes very personal. It's the ugly part. It’s not the most common and it’s not the majority, but to the woman who shares a last name with that coach, to you it will be the loudest, ugliest part of this life. You may become that coach's wife who sits far away from the chatter, and that's okay, too. Just breathe. And remember that the love on the inside of the fence is always greater than the love on the outside of the fence.
The Bad Side of Coaching
I guess I shouldn’t say bad, just tough. This stuff can be tough. At one or two points in ten or twelve years, after marriage and maybe a couple babies, you might become frustrated.
On practice days, it's hard to kiss him goodbye as he leaves at 7. It's hard to work all day, take care of all the appointments and errands by yourself, make dinner that you'll eat alone, clean up, (throw in bath time, homework, bedtime, etc.), and wait on him to walk back in the door at 9 exhausted after practice. Game days, away games, even later.
The days are long. The time together is short. The frustration is hard. It becomes easy to wonder where you fit in anymore, but I promise, you do. Your support allows him to follow his calling. He wishes he could be home more too, but to give these boys 100% it requires more of your coach than anyone imagines. It also requires more of a coach's wife and his family than anyone would ever know. Breathe through the heart of the season and take it day by day. You will need to hold the fort steady and remain strong. He can not do it without you. Trust me on this.
The Good Side of Coaching
Oh, the sweet stuff. This is the stuff that’ll get ya through the other.
The GOOD far outweighs the hard, any day of the week. When you see things click, when you see that "look" between a player and coach, when there’s an awesome play and your coach gets jacked, when your kids know and love the players like big brothers, when you get your post-win hug, when your coach spends a night in the ER with a player, when your coach gets a late night phone call from a former player who still needs him . . . you will be reminded why it's all worth it. And more than just being supportive, you will be SO PROUD of him. The kind of proud that brings you to tears. Worth it. All of it. The good, the bad, and the ugly.
And one day, you’ll realize that the same kids that were young boys when your husband started coaching, have grown up and come back to coach with him. You’ll watch them become leaders. You’ll watch them get married. You’ll watch some of them become fathers. And you will know deep in your soul that it was about so much more than baseball.
Congratulations to you both! Welcome “officially” to the coach’s wife life!
If you should ever need me, I'll be down near the bullpen, farthest away from the bleachers.