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.
These are stories we hear every year —
Coaches developing chronic panic attacks. Players suffering from depression or anxiety. Coaches becoming physically ill due to mental distress. Coaches and players struggling to navigate online criticism.
I knew it would be sad to lose a game. Or many games. Losing is never fun. Sure there would be sad times. But I didn’t know that we would always keep disappointment in tow. As a coach’s wife disappointment follows you like a flatbed truck and manifests itself in so many ways that can be hard to breathe.
The “will there be a season” question seemed silly in March because, well, it was March.
But somewhere between the cancellation of Spring football and the news today, the question felt like a weight pressing on my chest.
In this unprecedented time of uncertainty, that is the one thing of which I am sure. Even if you don’t step on that field again, your senior season matters.
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Thank you for your support. In the midst of a lot of unknowns, you were there! You offered great advice and answered every question. Trust me, I had a lot of them. Your unwavering support to welcome and assist my family in this new time was a blessing.
We’ve got to stop blaming the parents for the epidemic. Parents are always going to be passionate when advocating for their kids. Rightfully so, to some extent. We would love for all of us to lose our bias towards our children, but that probably won’t ever happen.
Next, there is a time and a place for this conversation. It is not now, not after a game, no matter the outcome. It is not while his family, friends, colleagues, and community are watching. Not in the middle of the field or outside the locker room. Certainly not at the volume you are speaking; the time and the place is not now.
I sat in that gym while my husband played basketball with my favorite teenager for hours after practice. No talking, no crying, just turning all his emotions into jump shots and the world’s biggest hug when we took him home. That’s all he needed.
If I was you, I would try supporting these men that give their energy, time, passion and love to your children ... using football as a tool to prepare them for life. Especially when your son is with the coach more than you. Get to know them, how you can help, get to know their families sitting next to you in the stands. I’m sorry if they made a play call you disagree with; they have quite a bit on their plate.
If you give a coach a scrap of paper, he’s going to want a pen.
When you give the coach the pen, he will draw a play on that scrap paper.
After he draws the play, he is probably going to want a chair to sit down and think about it.
They will grow up on the field, awaiting the end of the 4th so they can run into their daddy’s arms and the hugs and kisses will be just as sweet regardless of what the scoreboard says.
If professional athletes are unable to create a healthy balance with athletics and social media, why would we expect high school students to avoid the hunger of this approval from fans?
So when you come home to visit your family, don’t forget to come visit ours too. If you’re passing our house on the way out of town and you think about pulling in the driveway, do it. That bonus room in the new house is being built with you boys in mind—a place where the boys can always gather. And if you come to a game, you better give me a hug.
So, each year as the season is winding down or over for good, and that feeling starts to creep in, I remind myself no matter how much I worry or even how confident I feel, it will not make a difference. I try to remind myself that whatever happens, it will all work out for our favor in the end.
Mostly though, Seniors, I want you to remember that your place at our dinner table is still there and we are always a phone call away. We understand that family ties are not exclusively created with blood, and we are always happy to welcome teammates back home.
Thank you to the dad who poured his entire can of Pepsi on my son’s leg because he got into some poison ivy in hopes the acid would maybe stop a reaction.
Thank you to the parents who see me struggling to carry two children and half my house to my seat and offer to help.
The ones who scoop my three-year-old up and says, "I have him, he can sit with us tonight”.
And goodnight football, until next season.
Life will run much more smoothly if some things are predictable for you and your kids. If Coach pops up unexpectedly, it is just a happy surprise. Use Sunday to reset and get ready for the next week.