I've been reflecting a lot lately. My mind keeps reverting to memories made. When my kids were younger, for example, I would drop them off at my husband's practice and watch them run around on the sidelines, anxiously awaiting a fist bump or a bear hug from their dad. They would jump out of the car with crazy excitement, sprinting towards the field as if their lives depended on it. It's what they looked forward to all day and what they talked about all night. They thoroughly enjoyed being around their dad at practice… and it's undeniable that he enjoyed it too.
It didn't take long for me to realize, though, that it wasn't just their dad they wanted to hang out with. They cherished equally as much the relationships they were building with the "big kids" on the team. Believe it or not, one of my most favorite parts about every season has been watching my kids interact with my husband's players. Over the past several years, as they have grown up, I have witnessed some of the neatest bonds. There is something unique and special about watching a teenager take time to stop and acknowledge that they are a hero to some little kid.
I distinctly remember a season where a player they absolutely adored experienced a medical emergency that required him to be sidelined for several games. My kids cried. He was not just an athlete but their friend.
He was a fantastic addition to the football team… a complete game-changer… a hard worker… and every coach's dream. But, he was so much more than that to our family. He was special and still is. Our prayers were answered when he was cleared to play again. My kids ran through the house, shrieking with genuine, heartfelt glee. They couldn't wait to watch him do what he loved and was oh so good at, once again.
I have to say, though, that he is not the only one. Every athlete my husband has ever coached holds a special place in our hearts. This is an absolute truth. But there have been a few athletes, over the years, who have chosen to invest in the lives of my kids deeply. For these players, my heart will be forever grateful.
We've had players attend birthday parties and send text messages at midnight on Christmas morning. We get messages every year on our birthdays, including mine and my husband's. We've had countless visits to our house, where we take plenty of pictures that are still framed and lined on my kids' dressers to this day.
We've had players come over with Christmas gifts, just because. There have been piggyback rides, autographed pictures, posters, and footballs, pizza parties, backyard basketball games, and ice cream trips. I can't tell you how many times, either me or my husband, have gotten a text looking something like this: "I miss the kids. Can I come over?"
I just have to say that there is a special brotherhood in football. As a coach's wife, I've witnessed it first-hand. There is an "I've got your back" mentality, and it is simply understood that you would do anything for your team as a player.
We often take for granted the importance of growing together as a football family. The wins and losses become so prevalent that they overshadow everything else. While I have thoroughly enjoyed every win and every championship, what has warmed my heart even more is the relationships that we've built along the way.
My kids will not grow up remembering the score of every game. But, they will grow up remembering the people who have impacted their lives and invested their time. Long after the season is over, those relationships remain.
Wife, I pray that you and your coach fully experience your season… not just the wins and losses, but everything that comes in between. If you have kids and they are old enough to remember the season, I pray they will experience the same joy my kids did through the years.
As frazzled as I am during football season, I can't take for granted what God has blessed me with. The opportunity for me and my coaches' kids to build relationships that we would never have made had we not been a coaching family. For this, I am thankful.