It’s a daunting challenge, joining a new coaching family. There’s a whole lot of feeling your way around and searching for a niche.
It’s an uncomfortable place to be and can be incredibly isolating – especially if you don’t have biological family close by to help with the kids and the nerves and the insecurities. Because there are ALWAYS insecurities when you’re with a new team. Always.
In the beginning, you usually feel more apart from than a part of a new football program.
I vividly recall two lonely seasons not long ago where I was completely apart from the other coaches’ wives. It was just me and my twin babies, a stroller loaded with a pantry full of snacks, and a haunting suspicion that in the whole grand scheme of things, no one on staff besides my very own coach gave a darn about whether or not we were ok.
Every Friday night, I hunkered down in the far corner of an end zone because we couldn’t navigate the stadium risers on our own (and no one ever offered to help). So we dodged band instruments and blazing-fast receivers. And like the nursery rhyme cheese, we stood alone. And apart.
One of my favorite social media hash tags is #footballisfamily. Sadly, there was no family on that football team.
Now, however, thanks to the grace of God, my personal little football family has found itself in the midst of a football program that is all about family. There is true connectivity and support amongst the coaches’ wives on our current team. There are welcome notes and survival baskets at the beginning of the season. There are group texts for reminders and updates throughout the fall. There are generous hugs and helping hands in the stands on Friday nights. And there are potluck dinners and hearty conversations in the field house after games.
This is what the hash tag #footballisfamily should be about.
So I’m writing this blog -- not for the new wife, but for the established wives in your football family.
I’m writing this as a gentle reminder that all of us have been there. We’ve all been the New Wife -- the one no one knows. And sadly, some of us have even been the New Wife that no one ever knows… the one that no one ever reaches out to before the transient nature of the football life has its way with us, and we move on to our next location and our next potential football family.
So I’m writing as a reminder that football SHOULD be family.
Don’t be the wife who never reaches out to welcome the new member. Don’t be the one who assumes someone else will do it -- somebody else will check up on her because you, you with the twin toddlers and the teaching job and gazillion essays to grade and gazillion students to nurture and never-ending dishes and laundry and dusting to do (well, you get the picture), you are helmet-deep in The Grind and you just can’t do a single thing more.
Ah, The Grind – the world-famous Football Grind.
It weeds out the unworthy. It leaves the weak in the dust. It measures mental and physical toughness and true character. It ensures that when you’ve given it your all, there’s still more of you to give – to your team. Because football is not a solo sport.
For any team to be successful, it is well understood that every single member must fully embrace The Grind.
And we wives are no exception. We have to be tough and driven and full of desire. And we must always be willing to push through the fatigue and give just a little bit more – for our football family – at home and in the home stands (and away ones, for that matter).
So push through your fatigue, coaches’ wives. Find your reserves and be the New Wife’s Left Tackle. Cover her blind side. Show her the ropes. Send her the welcomes and the updates and the encouragement. Help her wrangle her nerves and her kids in this brand new stadium.
Give her love and support and encouragement and bathroom breaks. (Nobody ever thinks of the bathroom breaks.) Help her become a part of the team.
Correction, help her feel a part of the family.
Because Football… it really is family. And really is NOT a solo sport.