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Raising kids amidst the crazy.

Storms Came, Our House Collapsed—How I Built a Stronger Foundation

It was there, with my metaphorical house stripped to bare studs, that I realized I had built it with all the wrong things.

I started over with the basics, faith became the groundwork on which everything was rebuilt. Finding a church community and reading God’s Word was the first step.

From there, I began to realize how grace (grace for coach, this lifestyle, and most importantly myself) was necessary as the support beams. It allowed me to have the patience I needed to get through the day, the season, the storm.

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Love Letter to the Current Owners of My Future House

I can hear my voice calling out to my son playing in the summer heat in the backyard way past his bedtime.

I can feel the rush of excitement when my stepson and stepdaughter run up the brick steps, fling open the front door at Thanksgiving Break, and call out to us, “we’re home!”

And I know because my family will feel at home here, that I will be just fine starting over too. 

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Learning How to Support My Black Coach Well

Learning How to Support My Black Coach Well

Note to the Reader: To read the first part of Crystal’s story read I Married a Black Coach; This is My Story 

As coach wives, we support our Coach through the plethora of emotions that come along with coaching. We listen when he comes home at an ungodly hour venting about a frustrating practice. We are a springboard for new ideas on drills or plays. We console him after a tough loss.

We put Coach in check when he needs a dose of reality, and we get the privilege of sharing with him the many, many joys of this profession. The words and actions that I provide for my coach in most situations are, I am guessing, similar to those that every other coach wife presents to her over-worked sweetheart. However, in some situations, I have found myself at a loss of how to provide my Black Coach with the support he needs, specifically where jobs are concerned. 

Throughout our journey together in coaching (he’s been in the game for a while but I’m a new-ish coach wife), there have been a few, distinct times when I could clearly see that Coach needed support from me, but I just did not know what to say or do.

What am I supposed to say when he tells me that we can’t take that job because that community isn’t accepting of interracial relationships? Or, that he isn’t even sending in his resume to certain places because he has heard that Black coaches don’t get a fair shakedown there when it comes to upward mobility?

And, let me be clear, it’s not like he was trying to replace Dabo or Saban, ya’ll. We are talking about logical, practical, qualified career choices that he was opting out of simply because of the color of his skin.

What do I say to that?

How do I respond?

Do I encourage him to ignore the prejudice and go hard after his dreams?

Or do I listen to and trust in his wisdom where racial issues are concerned?

(After all, as a white woman, my knowledge and experience on this topic are quite limited).

I have been stunned, and frustrated, and angered, and hurt watching my Coach navigate through this bigotry that, I am guessing, white coaches do not have to experience because, you know…privilege. There is really no other way to describe it. 

As always, I am speaking solely from my own experiences and observations, nothing else. I am not claiming that my experiences are true for all, but they are definitely true for me and my Coach. Supporting my husband is part of what I am called to do as his wife and as his partner. For me, learning to support him through racial issues that are intertwined with his passion, his mission, and his calling is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. 

After 2020, I’m So Grateful for a Full Calendar and Monotonous Schedule

When I put up the 2021 calendar, I craved the normal. I hopefully added remaining basketball games and projected track meet dates. In pencil, I wrote in gymnastics meets and volleyball games. I tentatively scribbled in some vacation possibilities with fingers crossed. I wanted our usual back and yet, I knew, I would eventually yearn for the unusual.

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The Coaches' Wives Top Ten

Whatever conversation others may have with me in hopes I will share with my husband, will NEVER get to him! The coach’s spouse is often treated like a side door into the coach’s office. No, we don’t know what our husband is going to do about playing time. No, I don’t know our husband is going to handle your child missing practice. No, I don’t know why freshmen are playing more than the upperclassmen.

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Living in the Space Between Winning and Losing

Yes, we step into that space and remind our men of the kids who do listen … of the kids who become adults and still reach out … of the kids who needed a surrogate father … of the kids who played out of their shoes … of the kids who just need one caring adult and our men stepped into the space, the space between winning and losing—and that made all the difference.

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What Is A Coach’s Wife

What is a Coach’s Wife?

To anyone outside of the sports industry, I’m sure you’re thinking to yourself “What is a coach’s wife?” “Why does she identify and define herself by her husband’s job?” Well, if you haven’t had the pleasure of getting to know a coach’s wife, it might be hard to get it. It’s not just cute game day tees, making goodies bags, and cheering in the stands.

It’s Good

It’s “Hey babe, I forgot my lucky khakis. Can you drop them off at the field house?” only to not know which one of the 50 pairs he’s referring to. 
It’s pacing back and forth in the stands, muttering under your breath and/or bursting into screams, all while managing to keep the kids entertained and well behaved (and wearing your lucky game day tee.)

It’s a hug and a kiss after an exhilarating win or a longer, tighter hug after a heartbreaking loss and lending a supportive ear to go over the rights and the wrongs either way.

It’s having a large extended family that will be there for you in an instant when you need it, without question or hesitation. And vise versa. 

It’s Hard

It’s “I’m sorry, I know I said that we could go to that, but something’s come up. I have to go into work.”It’s biting your tongue and turning the other cheek when someone in the stands says “What was that? Why would he call that play? Does he even know what he’s doing?!”

It’s getting asked a lot “What does he do in the off-season?” “Coaching is a full time job?” And “What do you mean he can’t take the day off to come to my <insert event here>?!”

It’s “Hey babe. So, there’s this unbelievable opportunity that came up. What would you think about moving (again)?”

It’s Impossible

It’s a heartbreaking debate as to whether you go support your husband at his game or stand in his absence at your child’s event.

It’s having a heart big enough so there’s room for so many players, their parents, schools and towns, but strong enough to not break when it’s time to leave them.

It’s a faith strong enough to go through weeks or months of every year staring down the uncertainty of what the future holds and knowing whatever happens will be for your good.

It’s not knowing how you’ll make it through another game, another season, or another move, but digging deep to find the will and the way.

It’s Everything

It’s more than just a game or just a sport. It’s more than winning or losing. It’s more than just supporting and consoling.

It’s handling all the personal logistics, so coach can focus on the program ones. It’s packing and selling the old house, and saying goodbye to the friends and memories made. It’s unloading and settling into the new house, and getting out into the next community to plant seeds.

It’s fading into the background of someone else’s dreams and not getting overcome by the darkness, but instead finding your glow in the silver lining. It’s not playing an active role in the decisions that affect your life but being flexible and open to what may come. It’s going where you’re called, but not necessarily where you want. 

It’s hard times and beautiful ones. It’s stressful times and uplifting ones. It’s uncertain times and adventurous ones. It’s the times that are part of the game plan and the last-minute Hail Mary ones.

We don’t start out as coach’s wives. The road to becoming one is bumpy and complicated. It’s not that a coach’s wife is defined by her husband’s job, but that she is refined by it.

I Found My Faith at a Baseball Field. Twice.

Then, on a Saturday in October, which started like any other day, I drove about an hour away with my mom to watch a couple of coach’s scrimmages. Because of the set up of the scrimmage, we were allowed to watch from the sidelines. And that’s where I finally learned the lesson that I was not in control. No matter how hard I tried, or how much I planned, nothing was a given.

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What to Expect When You’re Expecting—In Season

My whole family had been sick with a stomach bug. With four kids, this is the only thing they have shared with each other—and finally they shared it with me. 

I went to work feeling exceptionally queasy and left my daughter home with Coach. I felt awful until I came to the cafeteria and they were serving chili dogs. 

Maybe eating will help it pass

And it did. This stomach bug is not so bad after all.

When I came home, I found my daughter had not been able to eat all day.   And then I began to realize that I didn’t have the same kind of sickness as she did. 

I was off to the drug store. Within minutes, I saw two pink lines (and shed a few tears). I broke the news to Coach. 

I was pregnant

Our lives were already full and happy with three rambunctious boys and one sweet and sassy girl. We thought our family was complete. To complicate things, Coach just accepted a new position one week before. We were making the move to a new state. 

I was overwhelmed and although I knew that a baby should be a celebration—the timing was very bad. Then Coach asked the all-important question—“When’s the baby due?”

“October,” I replied.  

His response was predictable. “DURING FOOTBALL SEASON?!?” I shrugged my shoulders. What could I do about it? This was not part of the plan. 

So if you are facing something as beautifully unexpected as I did, here are some thoughts to help along the way.

Expect to go alone at times. 

In my first pregnancy, Coach went with me to all the appointments.    He was very involved with the process—appointments, ultrasounds and registries. But in spring, it was easy to work around his schedule. Things are different in season. I was 20 weeks along when we came to our new school. I found a new doctor and made every appointment alone. Every. Single. One. I drove Coach by the hospital a week before my due date. He met my doctor just before I delivered.  He was largely disconnected to that part of my pregnancy. And I understood. I decided to make the most of it. I used the long drive to listen to my favorite playlists. I enjoyed the changing of the leaves. I treasured that time alone. 

Expect to experience your community in a new way. 

In the first weeks at our new school, it was difficult to connect with parents and players. A couple of sweet parents decided to welcome our baby in a special way—they threw a “tailgating” baby shower! It broke the ice in such a unique way as they willingly showered us with diapers and gift cards. Babies tend to bring people together. 

Expect to make some plans around Coach’s schedule.  

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could anticipate exactly when baby will come? I imagined myself going into labor in the middle of a football game. I could visualize the scene: the cart would pick me up and drive me off the field. As they put me into the ambulance, I would give the thumbs up; and Coach would just keep on calling the plays. But that’s not how it went. I had a planned C-Section. Doc gave me a date and it was a Wednesday. It only took a minute to realize that it was the week of our cross-town rival. “No good,” I told her. “My husband’s a football coach. He says I should pick a Monday, and that week will not work.” She gave me a blank stare and put me down for the following Monday. She didn’t understand (most people don’t) and that’s ok.  Coach was able to enjoy his newborn so much more when that game was out of the way.  

Expect to take your newborn to a few games (if you want to). 

Of all the “Baby’s Firsts” this one is my favorite. Most of my babies made their debut at the spring game. But a baby born in season would be more like a new team mascot. She was two weeks old at her first game. I was still dealing with a handful of postpartum issues, but I bundled her up on that chilly night and truly enjoyed the game. She was no trouble—everyone wanted to hold her and she slept through everything. Weeks later, I was holding her as I ran 40 yards down the sideline to see the game winning touchdown of the championship game. So add a onesie in team colors to your registry or find something perfect for baby here, and go to the game! But if you decide it’s too much, don’t feel guilty! You’re the mom.

Expect your life to be imperfect and messy and beautiful. 

There will be late nights, early mornings, cluster feedings, tears, hormones, and laundry. So. Much. Laundry. Some days you will be so happy and others you will be so overwhelmed. Ask for help. Reach out to your tribe. Or head on over to Friday Night Wives for advice. Please hear me—we know and we understand. You will adjust to your new normal.

Remember this—God has already had this in his perfect plan for you. Psalm 18:30 and 32 say, “As for God, his way is perfect…and (he) maketh my way perfect.”  Whether or not you expected this—God did.  So lean on your community, love your Coach, and trust God. 

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on February 3, 2020, and has been updated in February 2021 for freshness, accuracy, and completeness.

moving family job decision placement

Unpopular Opinion: We Don’t Always Go Places Because God Led Us There

Just like our brother Jonah, we go places we're not supposed to go because we're human and want to do our own thing. Discernment and wisdom are of God, and when we feel anxious about a move, it can be fear of the unknown OR it can be divine insight.

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