If you are a coach's wife and this is your first time heading to this testosterone festival, here's a behind-the-scenes guide of what to expect.
However, there’s one thing that has always remained constant: my coach’s pre-game wave.
This tradition dates back to our very first season. Just as the kickoff timer is about to buzz, my coach will always turn from the sidelines, look for me in a sea of red and white memorabilia, smile, and wave. For my husband, I can only assume it reassures him I made it safely to the game. For me, though, it’s the gentle reminder that of all the places I could be, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be than under those Friday Night Lights.
We know coaches are a tough crowd this time of year. So to lighten your load, we thought we'd do the heavy lifting for you. We asked over 150 wives in the FNW Facebook group which Christmas gifts their coaches loved most and compiled a list of our 10 favorites to help you out this holiday season.
This is part of marriage. It’s not as if one of you is choosing to only be 20% or 50% or whatever percent. The percentage may be dictated by what’s going on with your job, with your children, or with your family.
My husband began his career as a large high school’s Athletic Trainer and now serves as a middle school Athletic Coordinator. The high school in his cluster has many responsibilities given to their middle school coaches, including scouting trips, sideline responsibilities, game filming and more.
This year has been particularly challenging as the district opted to start a third football team for middle schools in both grade levels, adding another night when coaches stayed later and away from their families.
There were weeks when he had other responsibilities on top of just football, like PTA meetings and Meet the Teacher night. He tried to go cheer on other students at volleyball games and be a representative at Spirit Night fundraisers at local restaurants.
Sunday nights we usually had a calendar run down so I would know which nights we would even see each other before 9:00 pm.
Football season wears down even the strongest families as the weeks go on.
Months of telling your kids, “Daddy will be home after you go to bed, but you can give him hugs in the morning.” Making dinners while trying to help with homework and not just letting your kids zone out in front of the TV. (Trying, not always succeeding!) Happy conversations when his team wins and frustrated rants when something just isn’t clicking and they lose.
Every once in a blue moon, my husband will call me after an event has ended and just ask if I am okay with him grabbing some food and perhaps an adult beverage with another coach.
Here is where I want to share a magical piece of advice that a friend shared with me. She told me that when her husband would ask to go out with a friend, she would say yes unless there was a really big reason to say no.
“Save your no for when it really matters.”
I do appreciate that my husband is considerate enough to ask, and most of the time, it is already so late that all the kids are already in bed. Sure, I miss him and would appreciate some time for the two of us.
But I can also sense that when he asks for this extra time, it is because he needs to relax or build up a relationship with a fellow coach. Maybe they want to celebrate just making it through another week or maybe they want to talk X’s and O’s. I trust that the men that my husband hangs around are good guys and I don’t worry about what they are up to.
Plus, and here is the surprising best part, sometimes it doesn’t work out. There have been times when he texts me to check in, I say “Go for it,” and then he texts back to say that the other guys couldn’t go after all.
No criticism of their wives, because they may have had an exhausting night and really needed their husbands to get their booty back home. But then guess who still gets Wife Points for saying yes – Me!
My husband has learned that when I say no, it is because I genuinely need backup at home.
Maybe I am frantically trying to finish a school project that is due the next day, or I need him to pick up some groceries on the way home. There are plenty of legitimate reasons why it could be an “All Hands On Deck” evening at our casa.
The point is that we have that understanding between us. We respect that there are times when friends can refill your emotional tank, and as football season comes to an end I will try to schedule more of those opportunities for myself too.
It can be really tempting to be greedy of my husband’s time when I feel like it is already in such short supply this time of year.
However, the years have taught me that a coaching staff with great camaraderie is a special thing that can make the seasons better. If an occasional night out is one way to keep it going, I am going to try to say yes.
I am going to save my “Heck no!” for the night when I am up to my elbows in craziness, and then thank my husband for coming to my rescue.
Are you a coach’s wife? Join our online community and connect with other coaches’ wives in the same season as you.
But nothing and I mean nothing, would get my goat like that handsome, brown-eyed man pointing his finger at me, raising his voice to that disappointed, irritated coach tone and speak condescendingly to me like I just ran the wrong route even after we drilled and drilled it in practice.
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.
But then the games stopped. Sports and this lifestyle came to a screeching halt. Suddenly, he was home all the time.
I have loved him through the perfect, undefeated, state championship seasons, the heartbreak of great competitive losses, and the fickleness of high school athletics. After years of learning how to accept that he’s perfectly alright with doing NOTHING for literally H O U R S at a time except watching game after game, he began more than one morning of this holiday break with something like, “Babe, which of your projects would you like me to help you with today?”
Can we live without sports? Yes, of course. We did that for a time. But, if we learned anything from last season, it’s that this is more than just a game.
You’ll miss the squeak of your sneakers on the court, the way your practice jersey smells by Wednesday, the unique taste of your sweat from the free-throw line. You’ll miss the bus rides and the gas station snacks, team dinners and locker room banter.
My coach and I have a list of things we would love to be gifted when these holidays sneak up on us. So here is what you're really after: WHAT’S ON HIS LIST?
The road to a full-time or permanent job is much more difficult than one could imagine. It is not 9-5, Monday through Friday; a job is not guaranteed after college, and the pay is minimal. But Conor never once complained.
One day, I will look back at this. I will reminisce with my husband about the days we are living right now.
I am not just a coach's wife and that's okay. I'm allowed to be selfish and think about myself and my other identities. I'm a wife, a daughter, a friend, an educator, an advocate, and a fur mom.
We are partners in ife. For us, that life includes football and all it entails. Please know, Coach, just because you are in-season, that doesn’t mean my needs are put on hold. I don’t need less of your time or attention. I don’t need less of your focus or your love. I don’t need less physical closeness and intimacy.
When you graduate college—send us that announcement so we can send a gift.
When you get married—send us an invitation so we can be right behind your Momma, crying with her when we see your face light up as you see your bride walk down the aisle.
I know who their parents are, where they come from, and where they hope to go. I know their strengths, and their weaknesses too. I know who struggles with neglect, who is spoiled rotten, who wants a D-1 scholarship, who just wants a family and fishing pond. I know who lost their mother to drugs, who reads on a 4th grade level, who travels from apartment to apartment to outrun bill collectors. I know who loves Hot Cheetos, or Hair Bands, or X-Box Live.
They’ve eaten hundreds of meals from a concession stand or from a drive-thru after cheering for the boys of the communities they’ve been a part of, while their dad drives the team bus home.
They’ve eaten supper at the table alone with mom, while dad counseled or drove a player home because, in that moment, that player's needs were greater than their own.
My boys have grown up, waiting for the moment they could participate.
And, while sports are certainly minor in comparison to keeping the world safe, the pain we may encounter still matters. It matters very much.