Coach and I just wrapped up our 18th season together, which is his entire coaching career to date. I started out as a college girlfriend who went to the high school games he was volunteering at, turned fiancé, and then wife, where we had taken a big step and moved out of state for the first time.
In these past 18 years, I have learned a lot about thick skin, keeping my thoughts to myself, and simply removing myself from the stands once we had our firstborn.
Sitting in the stands without children was not a problem. I thought some parents were a bit much, but there wasn’t anything that truly bothered me. I’ve never been one to get offended easily, and I always just knew that parents had one, maybe two kids on the field who they were fully invested in, where the coaches were looking out for an entire team.
Sometimes coach would ask me what was said and how parents reacted to certain situations, but once I had kids, I knew the stands were no longer for me.
As a new mom and still a fairly new coach’s wife, we were at an inner-city school in Nashville. The families I associated with were amazing, but with a 6-month-old, it was best for me to have my stroller, blanket, and snacks easily set up on the track in the corner of the endzone.
I sat there with my baby alone for the next couple of seasons. I chatted with friends before the game and after the game on the field. But during the game, it was just me and my baby.
A couple of years later, we moved to a school back in our home state where I would start bringing two kids to football games. This school didn’t allow me the opportunity to watch from the track, but it did give me an entire coach’s family section in the stands. I spent two seasons in the stands with a toddler and a baby. With other coaching families all nestled in close, the stands were manageable. The fans around us knew who we “belonged to” and didn’t say a word. After all, what could they have said? We spent two seasons at this school and won two State Championships!
Finally, my coach got his big break! Just as we were welcoming our third child in less than four years, coach became a head coach in the largest division of high school football in our state. I was now a head coach’s wife and had free reign to choose exactly where I would sit.
Coach told me he would start a family section in the stands if I wanted, or I could set up camp on the track again, whatever was best for me and the kids. I chose the track. The coaching staff he had was young, so there were not many families on staff. But the few families we had gathered together on the track, and we started our own section right there at field level.
I chose to pull away from the stands, not because of things said, but more because of the convenience of having young children. I know there were parents making comments during our losses. And while it would not have bothered me, I didn’t want my kids to hear negativity towards their dad.
Standing on the track became my permanent spot for all our games. It started out as a convenience for me and my children but turned into my own peaceful space.
We then changed schools again to a smaller community to raise our kids. And while all the other coaching families sit in the stands, I am alone on the track. I am a huge football fan, and I cannot just sit and chat with friends during a game.
I pay attention.
I get frustrated.
I talk to myself.
I feel all the emotions during a game.
My kids are all on the sideline now at the ages of 12, 10, and 8. They can run over to me quickly for something, I can enjoy their excitement being part of the action, and I can make eye contact with my coach after certain plays.
So, why do I sit where I sit?
It’s not because of convenience anymore, and it’s not because of rude fans (I choose not to ask if things are being said in the stands), but it’s for me.
It’s where I enjoy watching the game because while I love being a part of our community. I also love having the freedom to stand, pace, and cheer alone! It’s what brings me joy.
But once the game is over, I want to celebrate with all my friends on the field!