For Those in the Midst of a Losing Season, It’s About So Much More Than a Record
The mid-season slump hit me hard this year. Not only has this been our third season in a row with a losing record, we have also been in the midst of planning a wedding and working our hind-ends off with our 9-5 jobs. Even after a major melt down in the school parking lot after driving around like a chicken with my head cut off looking for my “mysteriously missing Coach who ended up having a meeting without telling me” moment, I’ve still felt the heavy burden of what this life means.
And then, the script flipped. I am a big proponent of changing perspective, especially when things have me down in the dumps. And that’s exactly what happened a few weeks ago to turn our season, mentally and emotionally, completely around.
The biggest script flipper? We have spent our Saturdays going to local college football games to see former HS players now playing at the collegiate level. The biggest part? They all immediately found Coach on the sideline after the game and rehashed every play, every stance, every moment as if it were high school all over again.
Seeing my Coach continuing in this most special role in the life of these men has changed the perspective for me. It’s been a huge relief to know, especially in our house, that no matter what happens on the fields on Friday night, what happens in the lives of the young men we encounter matters much more.
For many, they won’t have the opportunity to play college ball. Those Senior Nights and final games of the year are the roughest and ones that I am dreading as we move into tournament play. However, being able to spend Saturdays on the sidelines with my Coach as he simply enjoys the game and watches the players he busted his butt to ensure they went to college, let alone play college ball, has meant the most to me.
The most memorable moment that changed it all? Picture this. It’s the first cold night of the year and we are watching two of our former players in their senior college football season as the visiting team, bundled up in nondescript clothes to blend in the crowd. Sitting in the visitor stands, my Coach hollers out, “Get em!” and immediately the head of one of the guys snaps up to the stands.
You don’t forget a Coach’s voice—especially when yelling from the sidelines. Once he got back off the field, you could see his eyes searching the crowd until he found him. And, with a thumbs up offered, I managed to look over at my Coach and see the tears brimming in his eyes. This player wasn’t expected to do well in college. His home life wasn’t the best. There’s been struggle after struggle. But my Coach always saw his potential. After the game—a loss in the final seconds—we joined the other families down on the sideline to say hi to the players. Before this young man even found his family that had made the trek to watch him play, he found my Coach.
And the two held onto one another for dear life.
Even as this young man had his moment with my Coach, letting emotions spill over and seeing the compassion that the men in our lives don’t always get to show in the public eye, it flipped my script.
This is why we struggle. This is why we make the accommodations for the kids who need a place to stay or their physicals paid for due to lack of insurance. This is why we make the pounds of food each week and stay up late watching game film instead of going out to the movies. This is why the house is a mess and we miss family functions using the same excuse of “can’t, it’s football season.” Because it’s more than our win/loss record or the livelihood of the (meager) income that’s brought home. It’s the impact our Coaches have on the young men and their futures.
And sometimes, we just need to be reminded to change our perspective from the midseason melt down to the long term effects this game has on those young men.
Annie Wolfley met her Coach on a blind date the day before he interviewed for the Head Coach Football job and had no idea the crazy life she would be living. Five seasons down, they are currently preparing to get married in Spring 2019 as Annie continues to work in local church ministry with middle school, high school, and college youth. Annie is known for her hospitality and hostessing abilities on a moment’s notice — but especially her post-game Friday night meals for the football coaches. Crockpots are currently her best friends.