The 'What Ifs' of the Coaching Life

The 'What Ifs' of the Coaching Life

Honestly, I absolutely hated my husband’s job for the better part of the first decade. I’d move back and forth between wanting to go back to where we just moved from and obsessing over the idea of a next place. I had a hard time living in the present. It always felt like a waste of time. I had a tough time believing it was worth the investment. I didn’t think it was possible to be happy “here” when I knew eventually we’d have to leave.

I spent the majority of my time wishing, plotting, and waiting for the way coach would finally become a head coach. I prayed and held tight to the idea that one day we’d end up back at the school I wanted, the one I thought was best for me (and our family). I daydreamed about a specific multi-step scenario that needed to happen to make it a reality.

I ruminated over this series of events for years. It helped me to keep putting one foot in front of the other and doing what I needed to during the most challenging days. It became such a part of my routine that I didn’t even realize how often I fantasized about it until it started to actually unfold.

For a few weeks, I stopped all forward motion. I was frozen with the ‘what ifs.’ I was lost and confused. I had waited so long for this to happen, but the timing was all wrong. We had just moved away less than a year prior (and spent a large chunk of our savings doing it). It would be irresponsible and almost impossible for us to change jobs. But that didn’t stop me from knowing I’d say yes if that call came.

After a couple of long, hard weeks, the scenario played out in such a way that made it clear that the door wasn’t meant for us. And I realized that God didn’t just shut that door, He slammed it in my face, turned the deadbolt, and activated the alarm. He made it crystal clear that the door would never be opened.

I now realize it wasn’t so much that specific school and location that I was obsessed with, but more the control of my future and the comfort of the known. I have always liked to think that things that I do might have an impact on the outcome of a game or a season- lucky game day outfit, signs, watching positions, pre-game meal, etc. (I am one of those superstitious wives.)

I assumed that with more control came the peace and security I was looking for. But, I realized there is no such thing as control in life in general, let alone for a coach’s wife. It wasn’t until I stopped trying to force my way and control our situation that I found peace. I began to understand that all I had to do was follow the One who had it all figured out and was truly in control. And that because God was the one in control, it wouldn’t just be good. It would be much better than any elaborate scheme I could create.

It hasn’t made this lifestyle less painful or stressful. But, it has helped me from getting stuck in that “what if” downward spiral- the one that kept my feet from moving forward, my mind stuck in a constant loop of worry, and my heart pulled in a million different directions.

For the longest time, I had a hard time believing that the key to maintaining peace could be through community. But getting out into the new school, new neighborhood, new work environment, new church, new kids’ school, etc. (almost) right away has helped me to loosen my grip on control. Making connections, whether in the new community or a virtual one with other coaches’ wives, has helped me find it sooner and faster than when I spent my first years at a new school concocting plans for our future elsewhere.

And I’ve maintained security in the constant uncertainty of this coaching lifestyle, not because I created it myself. But because I handed it over to the God who was truly in control.


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.”
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