What I choose to dwell on will dominate my thoughts, emotions, and responses. So instead of hopping on the roller coaster of preseason camp, I journal, I take a walk, I grab coffee with a girlfriend, and I talk about only positive things.
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.
Yes, we are moving Lord, but You are already there, just as You are here. It is such a comfort that we cannot escape the cover of Your love, no matter how far we move.
You'll realize that to do it the right way, to be the best possible coach's wife (and person), the one that the community and school deserve, it's going to cost you a piece of your heart.
Give it time. You are going to fall more and more in love with this life than you ever knew was possible.
I didn’t know Coach’s role would change unexpectedly and shake up our lives drastically. But some of you had experienced that before.
I didn’t know that we would watch each sport shut down, one-by-one. But even when the stadiums emptied, there you were.
Some lost seasons. Some lost jobs. Many wrestled with their mental health and moves and the new normal. But we didn’t face these things alone. But we figured it out together.
Dear Head Coach’s Wife,
This fall will be the first time in almost a decade that my “title” is coach’s wife rather than head coach’s wife, and I’m so relieved. As our new reality began to take shape, I found myself exhaling deeply for the first time in a long time. Even my parents observed that after spending a few hours with my husband, they don’t remember a time when they’ve seen him smile so much or look so relaxed. And while saying this out loud makes me chuckle, it also reminds me that you, head coach’s wife, need my prayer and support.
Don’t get me wrong. My husband was an excellent head coach for many years. He was successful on the field, and he faced challenges. But, most importantly, he understands the opportunity a coach has to develop men through sports. He understands athletics is an avenue to sharpen future amazing husbands, employees, and citizens through the ministry of football. When he coached at the college level, he spent hours pouring into his staff, seeking to develop their leadership skills and football knowledge.
As the head coach, he also faced every criticism from the public, administration, staff, and team. As the head coach, he understood he was associated with every negative situation, whether he was present or completely unaware of the details.
I’ve often said that you have to be slightly insane to place your family’s financial stability in the hands of 16–21-year-old men committing to do the right thing at the right time 365 days a week for four years. Whether you’re coaching high school or college ball, you know you’re setting yourself up for failure with those odds! And really, why should we expect athletes to behave better than the adults in the room? (But that’s a question to answer in a different post 😉)
Today dear head coach’s wife, I’m writing to you. I want you to know that I understand your burden as one who has walked years in your shoes.
- I know how lonely it is to invite your staff wives to your home, only to learn later they prefer to hang out together without you.
- I know how difficult it is to bite your tongue as you hear how unfair your husband’s decision to require the coaching staff to work is, even though he’s worked longer hours than anyone else on staff.
- I understand how challenging it is to walk the line of representing your husband and team well while also pursuing your own dreams and passions.
- I know what it’s like to feel the loss of staff leaving because they insist you aren’t treating them as well as they deserve even though you know your husband is bending over backward to do everything he possibly can to make that coach (and his wife) as welcome as possible.
But here’s the thing head coach’s wife, for every challenging situation I understand, there are ten amazing that flood my mind. Coaching is a ministry that includes a constant rotation of new people to serve. This means that our mission field will change every year whether we move on or our entire staff remains the same.
With that in mind, my prayer for you this year is specific. I hope you’ll find it applicable.
We lift up our head coaching families this season. As we enter a new (and likely uncertain) season, we will need to establish what “normal” looks like in a post-pandemic world. This is a challenge for every leader. However, I believe our head coaches are facing a particular burden this year. God, please give them your compassion and empathy for their athletes this year. Help them discern when to ask for more and understand their athletes are truly giving everything they can on a particular day.
God, we know as our coaches will be on the field, coaches’ wives will strive (and struggle) to support their husbands, children, and juggling everyday life. So we pray specifically for our head coaches’ wives today.
Every coach’s wife needs your shoulder to lean on, but today I’m asking that you give head coaches’ wives an extra dose of encouragement this season. Please provide them with a cheerleader in their community who they can lean on in difficult moments. Please help them to walk the tightrope of public and private lives in their communities well. Finally, God, I ask that you give our head coaches’ wives ideas on deepening family bonds within the staff best.
We pray that our head coaches’ wives won’t feel they need to put their passions, dreams, and desires on hold this year. Instead, we ask that you show them how they can thrive in their callings in partnership with you.
Thank you for loving our head coaching families. Remind those of us on staff with head coaches and head coaches’ wives who seek to serve us that we are likely being protected from more conflict than we realize. Please help us to be grateful even in frustrating moments and to remember the bigger picture.
Coaching is an amazing opportunity to reflect your love and character. Help us all to do so to the best of our ability.
I’m writing this as a gentle reminder that all of us have been there. We’ve all been the New Wife -- the one no one knows. And sadly, some of us have even been the New Wife that no one ever knows… the one that no one ever reaches out to before the transient nature of the football life has its way with us, and we move on to our next location and our next potential football family.
You do not have to do this coaches’ wife thing alone. There are many who have walked before you, and there are many who walk alongside your journey. Embrace your title; it’s part of your calling.
Most of us know what we want to do: use that big love to defend and protect our coach!
But what does that look like? Should we call out those who are actually at fault? Tell the bleacher coaches they have no idea what they are talking about and to zip it? Highlight the inequalities? Underscore the unfairness?
Most of the time we are silent partners in this deal, but we have to ask ourselves: are there times when enough is enough?
It’s the middle of the season.
The excitement and novelty of a new season and new team has died down. We’re not yet to the playoffs when the whole town is vibrating with pride and bleeding school colors. District games are underway and tensions are high with so many must-win games up ahead. Your husband’s hours are getting longer, if that’s even possible, and your schedule is filling up now that school is in full swing.
Your evenings consist of taking the biggest to soccer practice and the middle to piano just in time to turn around and head back to soccer practice to pick her up. Then, the baby is crying because apparently she can’t feed herself.
Some days, you manage to make it up to practice so the kids can see their dad, even if it’s only from a distance.
It’s the middle of the season.
Game nights are … difficult. The kids are exhausted from a full week of school. Whether they make it through the whole game is a crap shoot and even if they do, their little sleep deprived souls will be in shambles for the rest of the weekend. You’ll be the only one around to pick up the pieces.
It’s the middle of the season.
The weekend comes. You get the kids ready for all the things: Big Kid’s soccer game (which never fails to be the 8 o’clock game… who schedules this crap?), middle kid’s friend’s birthday party at 10. You know you said you’d help out at that church event, but you realize by noon everyone is DONE. With fingertips full of guilt, you text to let them know you won’t be able to make it. Stop with the guilt. You’re doing the best you can.
Your friend calls you about joining some girls for dinner tomorrow night, but you don’t have money for a babysitter (“Yes, he works Sundays, too”). And even if you did, you’re not sure you’d have the energy to put a bra on, much less makeup.
It’s the middle of the season.
Your husband comes home after all the kids are asleep and tells you about how the staff ate lunch at Pizza Hut and how the team had a ping pong tournament and he and his partner won. He tells you about kicking that one kid out of practice today and letting another cry on his shoulder about stuff that makes your stomach hurt.
Meanwhile, you tell him about how your middle child followed you around the house all the ding dang day and how the baby smeared poop EVERYWHERE and you didn’t throw up cleaning it. #winningatmotherhood. You feel a little silly telling him about your day and wonder silently if he really cares.
Y’all give each other a tight, lingering hug. Then sit down on the couch together, turn on ESPN, and see who falls asleep first.
It’s the middle of the season.
And you’re lonely.
You love this season. But you also feel like your life is put on hold until it’s over because you’re too busy being everything for everyone.
You need help. You need reinforcements. You need friendship and companionship and just to feel less alone.
Oh, mama. You’re not alone.
You. Are. Not. A. Lone.
Coaches wives everywhere are with you. They are cheering you on and standing with you in your loneliness. They feel it too.
It’s the middle of the season.
And you might feel forgotten. You might feel unseen or unimportant.
That coach, the one who is working so hard and so long, he knows what you’re doing behind the scenes. He might not say it loud enough but he sees you and he’s thankful for you.
And those other coaches’ wives, the ones whose kids are a little bit older, the ones who sit by you on game nights and help you pack up all your stuff afterward, they know how hard and draining it is. They’ll be there for you if you’ll just ask.
And those players, the ones you cook for and clean for, the ones you loan your children’s father to for a few months to love on, they may not have the words to say it but they are so grateful for the way you’re sacrificing for them.
You, sweet mama in the middle of the season, are not forgotten.
By me, by your husband, or by your God.
It’s the middle of the season.
Hang on. We’re halfway there.
Resist the urge to fill every moment of dead week with picture perfect memories. Yes, these are the days that we cherish with Coach, but over planning can make dead week a chore.
Note to Reader: In the spirit of CBS This Morning: Letter to a Younger Self we are inviting coaches’ wives to reflect on the milestones of their past and reflect on different lessons they have learned about the coaching life. We are a stronger community when we learn from each other. We can’t wait to hear your story!
Note to Self from a Coach’s Wife
Your idyllic suburban upbringing will take your first challenging life turn in Junior High. Your parents will make the important decision to leave the only church you’ve ever known. This single decision will change your Spiritual development drastically.
You will meet and engage with mentors that will stretch your understanding of God’s character and how you read the Bible. You will meet people who expand your global view. Your friends tell you about their experiences living overseas and open your eyes to the realization that you must research and study things for yourself rather than taking the word of a self-positioned authority. They also plant a sense of adventure within you—a longing to explore new places.
It was a huge step of faith to choose a new church. Your parents trusted God with your unknown future.
Attending church in one community and school in another helps you learn to move through different circles of people with comfort easily. You also realize that friendships run in seasons, and some people are in your life for longer seasons than others. This will teach you that there isn’t a point in wasting time being anyone but yourself.
Just as you’re starting to gather your bearings balancing work friends, school friends, church friends, homework, and responsibilities as a student athletic trainer life you’ll find yourself heading to college for all new experiences.
Always remember your college years were challenging and a lot of fun.
As a freshman athletic training major, your days are spent on the football field. The quietest moments are at football practice, where you quickly fall into the familiar routine from high school. Fill the water bottles, respond to the injury, run through the evaluation, head to the doctor, and start rehab.
The classwork is only half as interesting as the hands-on work, and you find yourself more engaged in your Bible and ministry classes than the classes for your major. By the end of your freshman year in college, you are pursuing two paths. Balancing student staff with Young Life and while still majoring in athletic training, working with different teams, and trying various internships allows you to combine both interests, but your worlds are very separate.
You will pray for a clear path for all your passions to align, and God will show up in amazing ways.
At football practice your Junior year, you will hear a common question from a voice you never hear on the field. “Is it boring watching us practice every day?” And at that moment, you will look down to see a smile on a classmate that always joined in on conversations. He never seemed all that interested in anything more than a casual friendship, but now he’s flirting just a bit, and you don’t mind.
It won’t take long for clear intentions to present themselves. This will include a conversation where you begin to understand that God was not confused when he gave me a passion for ministry and sports. His gift of a partner asking me to consider living on mission every day and use football as a ministry was icing on the cake.
You’ll Learn the Coaching Lifestyle is an Adventure with Heartache
Your dating months will stretch you emotionally and Spiritually. Within the first few months, you will learn what hypocrisy looks like as “friends” now walk past you with looks of disgust.
This is a lesson that will prepare you for future encounters for the rest of your life. You learn to accept that not everyone pursues authentic relationships by seeing your dorm mates now judge you for loving someone different. You’ll rely on your high school and college education in Biblical foundations, doctrine, and hermeneutics affirm your interpretation of Scripture. Developing these foundational truths before marriage will be important as you will face legalistic and racist words and actions your entire marriage.
Your adventurous spirit will be tested
Football will take you all over the State of Illinois and out to the Mountains of Virginia. No move will come when you expect it, yet each will include many important milestones and lessons. You will have seasons of fruitful ministry in every location. Your ministry is always clear, but you will also encounter many who use bully tactics, shame, fear, and Scripture’s weaponizing inaccurately to minimize your ministry opportunities.
Thriving in the Sweet Spot of Your Calling
You will thrive once you have distance from those who declare themselves false authority over your life. Distance will allow healing in the deepest wounds and clarity about God’s character. Each lesson will build on the previous one, and your confidence will grow as the noise of other people’s voices gives way for God’s voice. You’ll learn to walk more consistently with God’s shoulder to shoulder, and as you do, your marriage will thrive.
You won’t avoid conflict; it’s a part of life. But you’ll deal with it more efficiently as you clarify who you are fighting for and how God is calling you to live on mission.
Remember you are always clay in the potter’s hands
There are several references to God’s people as clay in the potter’s hands. But there aren’t any moments where God says he is finished molding the clay. He never says he is finished shaping us. Live like pliable clay. Don’t ever set on a shelf and demand to dry out. You have a unique calling, and you can only fulfill it if you remain teachable, tuned to God’s next adventure.
“Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” Isaiah 64:8
It seems like an eternity right now, but they will one day not cry when coach is actually around. They will go to him when he walks through the door, instead of clinging to you.
And then the games started, and everything intensified. Hours got even longer, game film, practice film, coaches meetings, etc.
It was all so much. I realized my naivety. I really had no idea what went into the sport.
Don’t let anyone give you grief for doing what’s best for you.
The field house is home. I don’t know why we pay utility bills during the fall, because we are hardly home to use water and electricity. My husband puts more hours in at the field house than I see him in our own home.
I see you trying to figure out how to be the best employee and cheer your man on at the same time. It’s impossible to be in two places at the same time. Don’t feel guilty. You are doing the best you can.
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.
I pray he remembers he has a wife who has his back (sometime maybe too much), no matter what. I am strong enough to be a coach’s wife.