Journal, Marriage

Dear Coach, When You’re Losing

Dear Coach,

I love the highs of winning, the joy and excitement. I love following the kids onto the field, our whole family and your team dancing, while “Celebration” by Kool & the Gang blares over the speakers.

Some of my favorite ballpark memories include watching you holding our babies and singing along while we celebrate your victories.

I love the smiles and laughter that accompany those moments. I love the high fives our little ones get from your team as they round third and head for home after a win.

Who in the sports world doesn’t love winning?

But I need you to know how much I love you when you are losing. I see you bring out the best you have to offer your athletes when you are losing.

I see you lead your team with strength. You lead by example as you teach them to handle adversity. You tell them what they’ve done well and where they need to improve, what they can learn from each loss. You model how to stick with the process and the plan even when they can’t see the immediate results.

You don’t waver at the first sign of difficulty. Isn’t that exactly what it takes to be successful in anything?

Your path in coaching is a prime example. It took twelve years of the assistant coach grind before you got your first college head coaching job.

Our adventurous life as a coaching family is another example—from moving across state lines multiple times, to adding our own children to our family and finding creative ways to manage our finances.

There are highs and lows, but we must commit to keep our focus on our greater purpose. We’ve learned this lesson over and over again, so I love seeing you pass it along to your athletes. You don’t give up when things get hard.

As much as you aren’t quick to stray from your plan as you lead your team through losses, you also know when your team needs you to shake things up a bit. You know when it’s the right time to transition from Plan A to Plan B or even Plan C.

I see you agonizing over professional research and learning new ways to teach. I see you planning and preparing how you’ll rejuvenate your team culture and reset the tone.

Deciding what changes to make and when to make them is never an easy task. It requires exactly the right balance. Change too soon or too late or too often or not often enough, and you’ll lose your athletes’ trust in you as their leader.

So you focus on making the right choices about the right changes at the right time. You lose sleep over it, night after night. You do it all in the name of what is best for your team and what will help you reach the needs of your athletes through a trying time.

You work hard to get this right. And, truth be told, you don’t always get it right. You make mistakes. But you learn from them too. You are your own toughest critic, and I see you as you doubt yourself, second-guess yourself, and get down on yourself for the mistakes you’ve made.

I see you doing all of this in the face of extraordinary challenges. No one likes to lose, so you’re making these choices and practicing this leadership, often in the midst of poor attitudes from your athletes, complaints from their parents, and pressure from the administration.

When you feel like everyone is against you, remember I am on your team.

Remember I see the good and meaningful work you are doing.

Remember I love you and love seeing your persistence and passion come out in the midst of losing.

Love,

The Coach’s Wife