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Dear Veteran's Coach's Wive Series

Dear Veteran Coach’s Wife: How do I Develop Community on Our Staff?

It’s Monday, which means we’re answering another question in our Veteran Coach’s Wife series.

 

QUESTION FROM NEWBIE WIFE

I long for a close-knit sisterhood with the other wives on our staff but it’s just not there. We always have beginning-of-the-year get-togethers (with the exception of this year, of course), I have created a private FB group to try and generate a little camaraderie, and I regularly ask about caravaning/carpooling to games. I’m at a loss. We are finishing up our 7th season in our current job, we are quite a bit older than most of the staff, so, I’m not sure if that’s the issue or what?

Signed,

Longing for Sisterhood

ANSWERS FROM VETERAN COACHES WIVES

Dear Longing for Sisterhood,

Every staff is different from year to year and that includes the wives. Some years are great, others not so much. Two things I want to leave you with first; sometimes people are quietly struggling or missing the mark of connection. I have been burned before by others, pretty badly so when we join a new staff, I get anxiety times 10x. I worry all the time about whether not I fit in or if a person likes me. Because I am struggling, I tend to miss the mark of connection with a person. So, please keep trying. People like me need it. 

Second, I want to applaud your effort and encourage you to keep trying. Host a wives only event, my current HFC’s wife did this. We crafted team mascot door hangers. It was so much fun and gave us an opportunity to get to know each other without husbands and kids. One other thing I do to try and ease my anxiety and kindle friendship is I give all the wives a small gift. I am a crafter and make things, this year I made custom team earrings and gave them to each wife. It opened the door to new friendships and made everyone feel welcome. 

I hope this encourages you. Please keep trying, I know from experience that there is a person on that staff that needs friendship. 

Cheers, 

Stephanie Windon

 

Dear Longing for Sisterhood,

My husband has often said that the loneliest job on a coaching staff is that of a head coach. I believe the loneliest volunteer role is that of the head coach’s wife. The reality is that any way you look at things your husband eventually will determine the future of the rest of the staff. If your husband takes a new job or resigns then the rest of the staff may answer to a new boss, lose their job or get a promotion. If your husband isn’t pleased with someone he may have to fire someone. 

It’s a difficult balance with a dynamic where you’re interacting with the boss’s wife in any situation. Coaches’ wives who have been burned by previous coaching staffs are likely to keep their distance. 

Another thing to consider is that Facebook may not be the preferred method of communication. Try Voxer, Slack, or even email. It’s important to try to connect with people the way they are most likely to respond. Not everyone loves Facebook. 

Finally, it may be that while the wives are comfortable with you, there are some group dynamics within the overall group you aren’t aware of. Try inviting the wives out one on one to get to know them better. You’ll discover the things you have in common with each of them and they will see you genuinely care about them as well. 

Your efforts are to be commended, I hope the wives realize not all HCW’s care as much as you do!

Keep Going!

Beth Walker

PS- Have you read: Being a Head Coach’s Wife is Harder than I’d Ever Thought

 

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Dear Veteran's Coach's Wive Series

Dear Veteran Coach’s Wife: How Do You Deal with Head Coach’s Wife Conflict?

It’s Monday, which means we’re answering another question in our Veteran Coach’s Wife series.

 

QUESTION FROM NEWBIE WIFE

Dear Veteran Coach’s Wife,

How do you deal with a head coach’s wife that is trying to be a wife “leader” but is severely unfair? She and her children are allowed at practices/events but other wives aren’t informed of these opportunities. Parking passes, reserved seatings, event passes, wives get-togethers are all chosen by her and not provided for everyone. Some opportunities are even offered to her friends and family instead of staff wives. What do you do when the head coach’s wife is nice to your face and then talks poorly about you behind your back? Help!

Signed,

Head Coach’s Wife Conflict

ANSWERS FROM VETERAN COACHES WIVEs

Dear Head Coach’s Wife Conflict,

First, let me offer my sincerest apologies to you. I don’t have to imagine how you feel. I have been there. Here are some suggestions for dealing with this:

First, stay calm; easier said than done.

When things happen, take 30 seconds to collect, process, and think; this will keep you from retaliating or saying something you don’t mean at the moment. You are going to have to make a choice here: do you confront the head coach’s wife or not?

Second, you need to discuss this with your husband. If he is adamant that you don’t confront her; respect his decision. I would make it clear that he is expected to help you with parking passes, reserved seating details, and other things related to going to games. It will be hard to go that road (I have done it before with my mother), but I imagine you’re not the only one left out in the cold. Do your best to be positive; take care of your family, your husband’s players, and find a friend outside the wives group that loves your team. When my mother and I were in this situation, we chose not to confront the other wife. My mother explained to me that things would not change, and probably get worse, especially for my dad.

At the time, I wanted my mom and me to stand up for ourselves, but looking back now with more years under my belt, she was right. Whatever you decide, you need to have full support from your husband. That is the relationship you need to protect. 

 

Sincerely, 

Stephanie Windon

 

Dear Head Coach’s Wife Conflict,

Eek, this is a tough one. There are difficult people in every area of life but, when it’s in the coaching sphere it seems extra hard because we’re all supposed to be on the same team, right?! We’ve been at several different schools, some with super supportive wives and some with less-than-supportive. Sadly, I have not found either to change. They have remained in either the supportive or the unsupportive category throughout our time despite efforts to connect, kindness, etc. All that to say, we are called to our own integrity, regardless of how someone else acts.

I’m so bummed that you aren’t getting those choices that you mentioned. If there are wives who are trustworthy, cling to them, but don’t engage in “common enemy intimacy” (kudos to Brene Brown for the term). Y’all can be friends and support one another without bonding over your dislike of her leadership. Make the best of the situation as is and, if anything holds true in coaching, it will change at some point!

Signed,

Sometimes People Disappoint Us

How to Serve the Team without Upsetting the HCW

Dear Veteran Coach’s Wife, How Can I Serve the Team without Upsetting the HCW

Note to Readers: This post is part of an ongoing series “Dear Veteran Coaches’ Wives” and includes one question from a wife submitted anonymously. There are also several responses from veteran wives which offer encouragement, suggestions, and life examples. We can only write from our own personal experiences, but we’re committed to answering honestly and thoroughly to the best of our abilities.

 

Question From A Newbie Coach’s Wife

Dear Veteran Coaches’ Wives, 

How do you, as assistant coaches or a coordinators’ wife, fit into the mix when you want to be more involved with the team but don’t want to step on the head coach’s wife’s toes?

Signed, 

Just trying to avoid stepping on our HCW’s toes….

 

Answers from Veteran Wives

Dear Trying to Avoid Toes,

Sister, your heart for other service and respect will get you far in the world of school sports! First, do you have a relationship with the head coaches’ wife? If not, get that started first by inviting her to meet you for coffee or to take a walk. Then, ask directly—“I would love to do ____, but I’m concerned about stepping on your toes. If I did ____, would that cross a boundary?” A face-to-face conversation is a great way to make sure you are both certainly on the same page. 

Love Your Heart,

Becca Egger

Dear Trying to Avoid Toes, 

It is amazing that you want to serve right alongside your husband! I am right there with you! I’m going to assume other wives around you are not involved, and the HC’s wife is doing everything by herself. 

With that assumption, why don’t you ask her to lunch or coffee? At the girl’s date, express to her how you would like to get more involved. Ask her directly what specific activities she needs help with.  Make sure you tell her your heart’s desire to serve along with your coach. 

If she does not have anything specific to suggest, make sure she understands that you would love to help in any way if something comes up. I would also ask her permission for anything specific you want to do for the team, like goody bags or making signs for the locker room. One thing of note, if she asks for help, be there. 

In my experience, there is a reason why she is doing all things. Somewhere someone along the way has hurt her or let her down. She might be guarding her heart against that pain again. Trust is hard to earn when you don’t know someone, and you have experienced pain. Don’t take this personally, because girl, you are different! Once she sees that, hopefully, it will get better! 

Sincerely,

Stephanie Windon 

 

Dear Trying to Avoid Toes,

I love cooking for my man, and he loves it when I cook. At our school, our varsity coaches also serve as junior varsity coaches. Often on Monday nights, practice ends fifteen minutes before the JV kids and coaches have to get on a bus to go to a JV game. I make meatball sandwiches or something easy to grab and take with them as they get on the bus.  

The sandwiches are easier to warm up in the microwave, or they are delicious cold. I feel like I am contributing without competing with anyone else. As soon as another wife said, “Hey, can I take a Monday!?” I was eager to have help. I always snuck in quietly, left the sandwiches when I really wouldn’t be seen or made a fuss over because it wasn’t about me, right? It was about serving my guy and the guys with whom he serves. Maybe your quiet service starts a conversation about how y’all as a group can do other service projects.

 

Hang tough,

Lisa Witcher aka Mamawitch

Dear Trying to Avoid Toes,

I have been a head coach’s wife more than any other role. Here are my quick answers:

  1. Think about your desires, skills, giftings, etc., and how you would like to be involved. If you are on the team, that means you are part of the team, and you have something to give that may compliment the head coach’s wife’s gifts and talents, and desires or they may be different!
  2. Ask her how you can help. Some wives will have more of an answer for you than others. Maybe there are practical things and maybe she will just say sit next to me and be nice (that would be my answer 🙂 I can’t imagine turning down someone who wants to be helpful.
  3. Just straight say the fear, “I don’t want to step on your toes so…” and let her know what your desires are. I’d be kissing you and saying that despite my abnormally large feet (size 13, really) I am not easily offended and happy to support you in whatever you’d like to do.

From an HCW who Loves Help

 

Dear Trying to Avoid Toes,

We’ve made a few assumptions in our answers above so I’ll go a different way with my response. There are some situations where a head coach’s wife is insecure in her role or doesn’t believe in the ministry of coaching. 

It’s wise to avoid conflict on a coaching staff whenever you can, so I applaud you for that, however, I hope you won’t stifle your passions or gifts just to avoid a conflict. If you’ve attempted to help the head coach’s wife or had your offers met with resistance don’t give up.

I encourage you to create a specific list of ways you want to serve the team and have your husband ask the head coach if he has a problem with you and your husband together investing in your position group together. With the head coach’s blessing, you have the freedom to do whatever you want. 

Remember, coaching is your husband’s job, and conflict with wives can trickle into the staff. So make sure you keep serving the kids with the right heart the focus and protect the home team.

Don’t Stifle Your Calling!

Beth Walker

 

Do you have a question?

To All the Sideline Critics, From the Football Coach’s Wife

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.

Read more

High School Coach Resigns Due to Parent Politics … And It’s Time to Say Something Out Loud

You know what IS the best for them?

Overcoming adversity.
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.
Failing.

Read more

So You Married a Coach—a Note to the Newlywed Coach’s Wife

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.

Read more

To the Fans in the Stands This Season, Please Consider This

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.

Read more

You Might Be a Coach’s Wife If …

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)

When your OB/GYN lets you know your possible conception date happened to fall on your team’s off weekend. #allthreekids  #istayawayfromhimnowonthoseweekends (JD Doty)

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)

Catch Part 2 Here!

Dear Coach Daddy

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

god made coach wife

So God Made a Coach’s Wife

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.

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youth tackle football son

I’m a Coach’s Wife, But I Won’t Let My Son Play Youth Football

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.

** This article first appeared on Her View From Home **

I'm from a football family. Everybody's a coach. Husband, dad, brother, brothers-in-law, father-in-law. But we all agree on one thing: nobody should play football until they're in 7th grade.