I went into marriage knowing my husband had a goal of becoming a coach; it had been his drive for as long as I had known him. I had zero doubt he would be a good one because he loved working with kids of all ages. He loved teaching skills, as well as seeing kids “get it” and succeed.
He has always had a knack for helping people do more than they think they can do. Not everyone can do that, and it is a great skill to have if you want to coach.
Still, there were things that would have helped me in those early years if I had known ahead of time. I hope these suggestions will benefit you since the lessons I learned were sometimes harder than I liked:
- Life will be busy, but at times, it will also be lonely. The hours required for coaching can be BRUTAL. Most do not realize that there is much more involved than just game time. There is film to break down and equipment to order/repair/distribute/put away. There are practices to plan, other team films to watch, breakdown, design plays, and the HOURS of practice. Add in field maintenance, scouting, laundry to do, and, depending on the level of coaching, add in recruiting trips. Most coaches have at least 14-hour days, if not longer, during their season. Coaching is NOT a 9-5 job. And if you have kids, you will feel like a single parent about 80 percent of the time.
- When the season is over, there is a period of adjustment for him, as well as for his life at home.
- He has been busy, like crazy busy, for months, and when the season ends, he has more “time on his hands” and may drive you a bit bonkers as he settles into a new routine. You have been holding the fort down for months, and things are probably running pretty well, except now he wants to disrupt the routine you have established. This will take some adjustment for both of you, as well as communication, so that resentment does not fester.
- Date nights are VITAL. Yes, with a crazy schedule, kids, and your job, it can be hard to find time for a date. It does not have to be a full-blown fancy date away from the house. You can plan an hour or so after the kids are down to just turn off the TV, put down the phones, have some ice cream or cereal, and just sit and talk. Being able to have some quiet time together to connect is so important. One thing we have always tried to do is to take a short 1-2 day getaway once the season is done. Just the two of us, we go someplace close where we can just chill together. Sometimes, those trips were just hanging in the hotel and watching movies. Other times, we had activities planned and places to go. But it was always good to have time away from everything else to reset things.
- It is okay to have other interests besides his sport. I have been at this a long time, but I still don’t understand all the X’s and O’s of football. I listen when he talks about the nuances of the game, but all I truly get is that you want to cross that goal line. I can listen and enjoy his passion for the sport. And when he became an assistant wrestling coach, I knew more about the sport than he did because my brother had wrestled, and hubby went to a school that did not have it. But he was a sponge and soaked it up. He has a passion for the sport that is impressive, and this one I can share more with him as I love it too. We have connections that we share, but we also have interests that are very different. I enjoy plays, crafts, poetry readings, cooking classes, and the like. He takes part in some of them because it is time together. And sometimes, I do them with friends or by myself because it refreshes my spirit. Having other interests does not mean you do not support each other; it means you are different people with different needs. That is not a bad thing.
- You do not have to be at every single game or event. No doubt he loves to see you in the stands supporting him, but sometimes your job interferes, or the kids are sick, or maybe you are just worn out and need some rest. I try to be as supportive as possible, and he knows that. He also knows that sometimes my tank is empty, and I just do not have the energy to be there. I do not make it a habit, but I quit feeling guilty that I am not at every single event. That breeds resentment, and I work hard at keeping that away from our door.
- This lifestyle can be brutal, and it is in the public eye. Very few other professions put your spouse in the crosshairs of folks more than being a coach. Hearing things that you KNOW are not true and hearing others complain about coaching decisions when they do not know the whole story can be hard to handle. Finding a place to be where you do not have to listen to that kind of trash talk is best for your peace of mind. And you must remember that those bleacher coaches do not know what goes on in the trenches. They want to live vicariously and think they know better. You just need to “bless their heart” and move on.
- This life is a calling, and you have to be ready for the ups and downs that go along with it. Keep your focus on what is most important, pray for your husband and his teams, and hold your head high.
Not everyone can live this life, and you are doing something special even if others do not see it.