At one of the games this past season (my second as a head coach’s wife), an assistant’s girlfriend came up and said she wanted to invite someone to sit with us but thought she’d check “the boss” first.
Thinking she was referring to someone in the athletic department, my reply was, “That’s fine with me. I don’t see why ‘the boss’ would have an issue.” And she just stared at me until I realized that she was referring to me.
I was now “the boss.”
After 15 years of being an assistant’s wife, I have had a lot of time to think about what I’d be like.
I’ve had many great examples, who at times made it seem effortless.
I am not sure if I just didn’t pick up on any struggles because I was still learning how to keep my head above water as a coach’s wife, if they already worked out all their kinks, or if they were just better at hiding it. But, now I know there’s a difference between dreaming and reality.
In my dreams as a head coach’s wife:
I’d know all the players names and remember some great plays they made during the game so when I stayed and chatted at the tailgate afterwards, I’d be able to say, “Great job!” with specifics.
I’d have all the wives over for monthly wine nights so that we could actually get to know each other without all the distractions of rowdy fans, needy kids, and a game playing in the background.
We’d have the parents and players over at least once a year, inviting them into our home so they all could see a different side of coach.
I’d attend all the away games, no matter how far. I’d stroll effortlessly in with my kids, sit in the stands with the opponent’s fans, representing our school and my coach.
I’d be mild-mannered and my kids would be well behaved.
The reality of life as a head coach’s wife:
After everything we’ve been through in this industry, all I care about is that the other ladies (wife or girlfriend) know that they can talk to me about anything, but especially the craziness of this lifestyle.
Transitions, kids, even leaving us, nothing is off limits and everything stays with me.
I also want them to realize they don’t have to be at every game and every function to be considered a supportive wife.
Mostly, I want them to see that even after all this time, I’m still figuring it out. And I certainly don’t do it perfectly (nor will I ever).
For the players, I only care that they know our home will always be open to them, whether they’ve only been here one year or gone for many.
Advice and guidance would always be available if they seek it. But, after all this time (as a college coach’s wife), I’ve realized that isn’t where I’m needed. The moms are who need me more. I humanize the man they gave their sons too (and I keep him humble.)
It’s hard to believe that I’m the one setting the example now. Maybe someday, I’ll be able to be the Head Coach’s Wife of my dreams.
But until then, I’ll just do what I can when I can with what I’ve got.
And in a world, a culture, and an industry where women feel obligated to give until they break, I think that’s the best example of what any one should be, not just a head coach’s wife.