What Matters Most...

What Matters Most...

“We’re all told at some point in time that we can no longer play the children’s game; we just don’t … don’t know when that’s gonna be. Some of us are told at eighteen, some of us are told at forty, but we’re all told.” 

Thousands of athletes know this feeling; thousands of coaches, too, no doubt, look this ache in the mouth or carry unrequited dreams down an alternative path through a different narrative than the one they had written.   

The quote from Moneyball, a Brad Pitt movie chronologing the unlikely success of Billy Beane and the Oakland As, feels personal these days. 

At less than 60, my coach still planned on being a coach to young men, still planned on the adrenaline of Friday nights in the fall and the crack of the bat each spring. We had retired from one state and moved south to rinse, repeat, and replicate the joys and challenges of high school athletics.

An unexpected battle with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) sidelined our plans, and we spent much of our second year in our new state fighting to recover from a bone marrow transplant.   

Thanks to a great medical team and the faithful prayers of many, my coach is healthy - but lacks the kind of stamina required to teach and coach well. 

On the hard days, I sit outside his personal cave, the one to which he retreats when he’s processing something internally, and I wait patiently (sometimes, sometimes not so patiently) until he returns to me.

On the good days, we follow a little white ball around a beautiful green obstacle course and thank God for the sunshine and another day together.  

Neither of us would say he’s done coaching, but he is done for now - and we miss it. 

We miss the camaraderie of our team and of our team’s family. I miss the sisterhood of the coaches’ wives, the common bond we share in loving what our men love, and the demands of the job - what it asks of us and of our coaches. 

I know my coach misses the competition, the weekly routine of preparing a wide receiver core to be a threatening arsenal of athletic ability and sound fundamental football. We miss the boys, being a part of their growth, talking to them at our dining room table, traveling to watch them wrestle, run track, or play baseball.  

There are probably a few wives or significant others reading this little ditty right now, thinking that you can’t wait to miss this life - to let your calendar revolve around the next weekend away or trip to see family instead of practice, clinics and games taking up those square spaces. 

After more than three decades, I get that. However, I also keenly appreciate the gifts I received in those thirty-plus years.

I could spend another 800 words describing the joy and rich, abiding love my children experienced because their daddy coached. From the players to the coaches’ wives to the coaches themselves - both of my children were spoiled to perfection by love and friendship.  

 But it really boils down to this…  

We have family all over the state of Oklahoma and beyond - but it isn’t biology that connects us…Its grass stains and black, ever-multiplying turf pellets, chalk dust, brick powder, road trips, painted dugouts, the joys and heartaches of the fourth quarter, the ninth inning, the playoff losses, the championship moments, the holy offering of being a driven but compassionate force in the life of a child.  

In those three decades, we were fired more than once, adored, ignored, revered, and sneered - but in our darkest days, the loss of our 20-year-old daughter, we were loved into eternity.  

If I have to, I can still mingle a few details that narrate meanness or the unnecessary politics of high school athletics - but love, joy, laughter, and growth populate most of my memories as a coach’s wife. It’s a choice as much as instinct - to look for the good, to believe in the importance of each role, the significance of team, and the lessons our players will take and live out in their futures.  

Wherever you are in this coaching life journey, I hope you know you matter.

The silent waiting, the covered dinner, the extra trips up to the field, the support you give your coach so he can pour into a kid, the extra shoes you purchase, the rides home your coach offers, the young hearts that become a part of your family, the anniversaries and birthdays you spend at the field or fieldhouse - it all matters so very much.   

Whenever you and your coach hear the sage-like words that our eligibility is up, I hope you have held all the good stuff close enough to love you through your next chapter.  


A retired educator, Lisa loves writing and chasing her husband’s coaching dreams (currently in the great state of Texas). Together, she and her coach have raised two fabulous children, have been a part of six state championship teams, and enjoy calling many former players, family and friends. When she is not watching high school athletics, you can find her and her favorite over-grown-eighth-grader with the Oklahoma State Cowboys or at a Yankee baseball game.
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