So parents, I write this to implore you: we're losing good ones. Good coaches and good teachers are leaving the profession because it's so hard to do it with integrity.
Whatever conversation others may have with me in hopes I will share with my husband, will NEVER get to him! The coach’s spouse is often treated like a side door into the coach’s office. No, we don’t know what our husband is going to do about playing time. No, I don’t know our husband is going to handle your child missing practice. No, I don’t know why freshmen are playing more than the upperclassmen.
Yes, we step into that space and remind our men of the kids who do listen … of the kids who become adults and still reach out … of the kids who needed a surrogate father … of the kids who played out of their shoes … of the kids who just need one caring adult and our men stepped into the space, the space between winning and losing—and that made all the difference.
The sight that met me inside those doors was one I will never forget—and one I have not stopped loving since. There they were, a sea of men. Old and young, many with excellent beards, all of them wearing football apparel.
I leave decisions about strategy, game plan, and playing time up to my husband and the rest of the staff. When coaches are pressured by fans and parents to win, or simply motivated by their own egos, our players and programs lose.
When your unranked team faces a top ten team—hope sees the underdog come out on top.
When your team has never beaten a certain opponent—hope brings the game to end that losing streak.
When you are facing your cross-town rival in your State Championship—hope makes that unexpected victory so much sweeter.
The behind the scenes is where the nitty-gritty happens. The stuff no one sees is what really matters and the reason these men and women who are coaches do what they do.
Some people will talk about you behind your back because they’re jealous of you. But some people will love you because of who you are. They will love you because your daddy took the time to help their son or brother when there was no one else that wanted to deal with him.
As an educator, I know that a student who tries and fails and tries again learns more than those that are constantly successful. The same is true for a football game. We lose to learn. Does it suck? Yep, it sucks big time. But is it necessary to learn and grow as an individual, team, program, school, and community? Absolutely!
And, while sports are certainly minor in comparison to keeping the world safe, the pain we may encounter still matters. It matters very much.
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.
You don’t know me yet but you will! I’ll be the crazy blonde lady in the stands. The one who some days may look put together and other days … not so much.
I’m not sure there’s anyone who struggles with the “what might have been” mentality more than a coach (can I get an AMEN?!). It sometimes tortures them. Day and night. In and out of season. And golly does my husband have it bad. Like real bad. Sometimes before bed we still mull over the year …
My professional training is as a mental health therapist so I assume that is why we have received quite a few of these phone calls from coaching colleagues over the years. Through our own difficult experiences and those of others, I am hopeful that I may be able to share some tips here that can help your family navigate these tragic situations with a little more secure footing.
Some families may think complete and early commitment might be the magic formula for turning out a champion, but it might also be a path that leads to burnout or injury.
My husband’s truck is his rolling locker and closet. Water bottles, Gatorades, and towels take up the most space. Various keys and Academy bags litter the floorboards.
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.
You get the best of the man who loves the game, but cares about your character more. While most of the world sees you as wins and loses and what you did right and what you messed up, he sees the man you can become. He sees your strengths, but he also takes the time to help you improve your weaknesses.