If I was you, I would try supporting these men that give their energy, time, passion and love to your children ... using football as a tool to prepare them for life. Especially when your son is with the coach more than you. Get to know them, how you can help, get to know their families sitting next to you in the stands. I’m sorry if they made a play call you disagree with; they have quite a bit on their plate.
You know what IS the best for them?
Working harder than everyone else.
Getting better just for the sake of being better than they were yesterday.
Learning to have hard conversations.
Staying late at practice.
Taking extra shots.
Running extra sprints.
Busting their tail in offseason.
The days are long. The time together is short. The frustration is hard. It becomes easy to wonder where you fit in anymore, but I promise, you do. Your support allows him to follow his calling. He wishes he could be home more too, but to give these boys 100% it requires more of your coach than anyone imagines.
And I'm not here to defend the actions or play-calling of every coach. We've been in the business long enough to know not all coaches are good coaches. There are bad ones, and maybe one of them happens to be standing on your sidelines. But man, there are a heck of a lot of really good ones, too, and even those aren't immune to the name-calling and criticism that's lobbed from the stands in their direction.
We asked. You answered. And then we picked some of our favorites to share! So without further ado…
You might be a coach’s wife if …
Your kid has a “tab” in the concession stand! (Brie Engle Corlew)
The cops show up to investigate a “suspicious” car at your home post-football season because your new neighbors moved in during football season and aren’t familiar with your coach’s work schedule. (Amanda Trichel)
You don’t have a first name.. it’s “Coach _____’s wife.” (Amy Jo Noonan)
You lose half your wardrobe when you move. (Carissa Bentley Hays)
You routinely wash pens, cough drops, paper and chapstick in the washer. #checkyourpockets (Hannah Crowledge)
You know that when he says he is doing laundry, it does not mean any laundry at your own house is getting done. (Nikki Chandler)
He tells you practice ends at 730, he’ll be home by 830, and you automatically add 3.5 hours on top of that. (Jamie Meifu)
You schedule all major family events around football season, including but not limited to vacations, weddings, and the birth of your children! (Huellen Watson)
You have driven to the field house one million times for forgotten things. (Celia Quin De Monte)
You can spot a coach in a crowded restaurant based on their “coaching gear.” (Amy Touchstone)
You get to watch Bravo with no complaints from August to December. (Abby Baker)
You have to explain to people visiting your home that you haven’t had a chance to vacuum and that the black pellets aren’t rat droppings, just rubberized pellets from the indoor practice field. (Chelsea Pickett Middleton)
You stop at random football stadiums while on vaca because he sees the lights. (Stacey Massey McCartney).
When you cringe everytime your husband calls or texts in May because you fear the words….”I applied at”. (Sharla Strickland)
Your 3 year old sees her daddy and says, “ DADDY! You came to visit me!” (Kim Ward)
You physically bite a hole in your tongue when someone compares your husband being a coach to their husband volunteering to coach a peewee sport. (Sara Hudler)
If you know the difference between huddle and Hudl and have your own login. (Leslie Andrews)
The only family photos you take are for the football program or after football games! (Elisha Henley Watkins)
You’ve ever faked being asleep on Friday night at home after a loss. (Emily Beaird Lansdell)
There’s a cowbell in your purse. (Robin Bankston Wheat)
Your yard looks like you have left your home and abandoned it. (Cynthia Hulsey)
If date night consists of scouting on Thursday Night games and during bye-weeks. (Danielle Sherrie’ Harold)
You know more about strength and conditioning than you apply to daily life. (Christa Johnson)
Your entire clothing wardrobe solely matches your husband’s team colors…and the thought of wearing any other colors, causes fear that you may curse the teams season. (Carrie Helms)
You’ve considered buying stock in U-Haul. (Kayla Woods McClendon)
Your 2-year-old calls the fieldhouse “daddy’s house.” (Brooke Reed)
There will always, ALWAYS, be opposition when we are determined to shine light in dark places. Satan is NOT happy about it and WILL throw up barrier after barrier to stop us.
But please know, on those hard days, when it seems like I'm SO over it, I don't begrudge this life we chose one bit. I am not bitter. I don't wish you were anything else but what and who you are. Not for one second.
Dear Coach Daddy,
I know you worry about me.
I know you wonder if you’re doing alright at this Dad thing, if you’re gone too much, if you’re striking the perfect balance between work and family.
But I just want to tell you something, Daddy.
I love that you’re my dad.
I love running out onto the field after games and leaping into your arms, trying to catch my breath as you toss me up into the air, sure that I’ll hit the stadium lights from flying so high.
I love playing hide-and-go-seek in the field house and sneaking candy from the coaches’ stash and hiding under your desk as I try to unwrap it with my tiny little mouse-fingers.
I love running the bases after baseball games, up and down the court after basketball games, and into the end zone after football games.
I love the anticipation of a team dinner, getting to color pictures for “the boys” before a game, and waiting to give them high-fives after a win … or a loss.
I love watching you and telling everyone in the stands, “That’s my daddy.”
I love that I have a dozen big brothers (or sisters) who tickle me and give me hugs, who know my name and make me feel special because YOU’RE my dad.
They love me mostly because they love you.
And yes Daddy, I miss you sometimes.
But I see how hard you’re trying to be the best dad.
I see when you walk through the door and your eyes light up when you spot me sprinting your way, but your body is a half-second behind.
I see when we wrestle on the floor after dinner, and you let me pin you down a little easier every time, but we go another round anyway.
I see when your eyes grow heavy while you read me books, but you barely make it to the end just so you can tuck me into bed and kiss my forehead.
Someday, these will be my childhood memories. And I won’t want to trade them for anything in the world.
Someday, I’ll thank you for teaching me things, like determination and coachability and the difference between roughing the kicker and running into the kicker.
A couple of those things will come in handy in life.
I love you. And I’m so proud to call you Daddy.
You could lose every game you ever coach, and I’d still be your biggest fan.
I’m Always and Forever,
Your Coach’s Kid
He knew many wouldn't understand the importance of his world, that this life was so much more than blowing whistles and running sprints and charting plays, so much more than a game. He knew he would need someone who got it, who understood that this was a mission field, plain and simple.
So God made a coach's wife.
I was born Wednesday, August 28, 1985. On September 14, 1985 I attended my first football game. I was seventeen days old.
My dad was a football and baseball coach most of my life. I loved it. I loved having my birthday parties at the game on Friday night followed by a slumber party at my house. I loved getting to the crosstown rivalry game at 1 pm to get a seat on the front row. I loved the pep rallies and the homecoming parades. In my West Texas town, football season was like a four-month-long Christmas, with all the spirit and decorations and hugging.
I loved it so much I even married a high school football coach (unintentionally, as he was a business major in college) whose dad and two brothers are also football coaches.
Football runs deep in this family.
But despite the love I have for the game, I will not let my son play youth tackle football.
If you’ve read any articles about the NFL the last few years, you know the discourse currently surrounding football regarding CTE, the degenerative brain disease associated with recurring blows to the head. The recent research has put the NFL in the hot seat, scrambling to make the game safer much to the chagrin of football traditionalists.
In 2017, a study came out by Dr. Ann McKee and the CTE Center at Boston University, determining that of 111 deceased NFL players whose brains were donated for study, 110 showed signs of CTE. For those of you who aren’t mathematicians, that’s over 99%. And for those of you who aren’t analysts, 99% is a lot. While researchers admitted the findings are biased since “many families have donated brains specifically because the former player showed symptoms of C.T.E.,” the NY Times article points out that ‘’even if every one of the other 1,200 players [who have died since testing began] had tested negative — which even the heartiest skeptics would agree could not possibly be the case — the minimum C.T.E. prevalence would be close to 9 percent, vastly higher than in the general population.”
Sure, this is horrifying, but the fact is the majority of us will never produce an NFL player. We will never have to decide whether football is worth the risk at that level.
But we all get to choose if they play when they’re 9.
Two years ago, BU performed a different study, this time focusing on the effect of youth football. Their goal was this: “to determine the relationship between exposure to repeated head impacts through tackle football prior to age 12, during a key period of brain development, and later-life executive function, memory, and estimated verbal IQ.”
The study, which was published on ESPN.com, evaluated 42 retired NFL players between the ages of 40-69. They had two groups: a group who HAD played football prior to age 12 and a group who had not. Of the two groups, the men who HAD played youth football scored “significantly worse” on three measures: memory loss, executive function, and verbal IQ.
Prior to this study, it had been argued that since a child’s brain was more malleable and resilient, it would heal more quickly than that of an adult. But this study showed the opposite, “that incurring repeated head impacts during a critical neurodevelopmental period may increase the risk of later-life cognitive impairment.”
Beyond just the science, my personal experiences have discouraged the early introduction of contact football. I’ve watched my father, a former college quarterback who suffered five concussions during his career, struggle with symptoms that closely mirror those of CTE. I also married into a family of two Division 1 football players, neither of whom played tackle football until seventh grade because their dad (a coach with four state championships under his belt) didn’t believe it offered an advantage.
This is apparently true of most coaches. I asked 57 middle school, high school, and college football coaches if they would allow their sons to play tackle football before 7th grade. Of those 57, 41 said they would not. And of the 16 who said they would, many included caveats (not until 5th or 6th grade, not unless I knew the coach, only if I knew they were being taught how to tackle correctly, etc.).
Brent Falls, the Varsity Receivers coach at Ennis High School said, “In my experience, pee wee coaches often teach the wrong fundamentals of football, making it hard for not only the coaches but the players too, to have to fix when they get into middle school.” Jim Reese, my dad who coached both at the high school and college level, said, “I think kids who wait until 7th grade do better, have less injuries, and don’t suffer burnout.”
Thankfully, there are better, safer alternatives to learning the game such as flag football leagues, 7 on 7 leagues, private lessons, and youth football camps.
I love football. And I desperately believe in the power of sports. I will never devalue the camaraderie, confidence, integrity, and work ethic it builds. I also believe in giving kids long leashes, letting them scrape their knees and even breaking a bone or two. That’s how we learn and grow.
But when we are able to see life-altering consequences our children can’t, when it’s their future we’re playing with, we have a responsibility to advocate for them. And because of that, my husband and I agree that youth tackle football offers no benefits worth the risk.
And until my son gets to seventh grade, I’ll just be over here praying he falls in love with swimming or playing the trumpet.