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Dear Veteran's Coach's Wive Series

Dear Veteran Coach’s Wife: How do you deal with gender disappointment?

It’s Monday, which means we’re answering another question in our Veteran Coach’s Wife series.

 

Question From Newbie Wife

Dear Veteran Coach’s Wife,

How do you deal with gender disappointment? We were desperately wanting a boy for so many reasons – I’m a tomboy, I think bows are incredibly ugly, hubby wanted a boy that he could grow up and play football with and coach him, I wanted a mother/son relationship. I thought that once the baby got here, the disappointment of having a girl would go away. It hasn’t and I’m still struggling with having a girl. It’s just not something I ever pictured or wanted. I sincerely always thought we were meant to be boy parents that the thought never crossed my mind we’d be destined for something else. God clearly has jokes. Have any of you ever experienced this disappointment? 

Signed, 

I love my daughter but bows are ugly

 

Answers From Veteran Coaches Wives

 

Dear Disappointed,

My sweet coach was so worried; he’s the youngest of three boys and 110% male. When God gave us a beautiful red-headed, sassy girl for our firstborn, my coach was like, “What if she likes the violin and stuff…” I quickly responded – “Well I am not sure how she would fall in love with the violin in this house -but if she does, I bet you love the violin too.” 

Here’s what I can tell you – She is a gift. She will humble both of you. You will marvel at her – no matter who she becomes.

Our little princess got on base more often because she had been hit by the pitch, was a tenacious point guard, a fearless base on the varsity cheer squad, and incredibly impatient when the other girls didn’t understand the rules of whatever game for which she was cheering.  Her daddy could hardly ever say no to her and along with her excellent athletic ability, she was able to apply lipstick better than I could by the time she was two.  God gave her to you; you will have the time of your life finding out why. 

I avoided pink for years with my favorite redhead. I dressed her in baseball outfits, covered the snaps and hats with sunflowers or bows. She loved it, and we adored our ultra-competitive, never-say-lose, sassy, but very caring, fire-cracker. 

Much  love-

Lisa Witcher aka Mamawitch

 

Dear Disappointed,

You are not alone and I applaud you for asking this very brave question. Stepping into parenthood is easier for some than others. Having a baby rocked my world and I’m not sure if the gender would have mattered or not. Some people take a while to fall in love with their kids. I like mine way better now that they are big kids instead of babies. I suspect you will like yours more and more as she grows up, whether she ends up being a girly girl or tomboy. I got one of each and watching them grow up eventually made me change and love them more than I believed even though I am not naturally “bent” as a Mom. Hoping great surprises come from the choice God made on your behalf.

Signed,

He knows what He’s doing.

 

Dear Disappointed,

Children are one of the last mysteries on this planet. Rarely do we raise a child and find that our parenting expectations come true. I’ve never met a parent who says “Oh yes, my kid turned out exactly how I dreamed they would.” In fact, my guess is that if you would think back on your own childhood you’d remember resisting your parent’s helpful directions as you prepared for important life milestones. 

We have two sons and even though everyone on both sides of our family determined before their births that they would play football both have actively refused to engage in the sport.  Our boys are fun, funny, and exasperating. Just as teenage boys should be, and yet neither will follow in their father’s footsteps. 

We love them dearly. Now that they are more independent we also like them. It’s possible you will find you enjoy your daughter more as her personality develops. My encouragement is that you spend each day focusing on that day. There will be many moments you look back on and realize they passed by too quickly. 

God has entrusted you with an amazing gift. Enjoy her. She will give you many moments of laughter and tears. Every child does. 😉 PS. I’m linking this wonderful post in case you haven’t had a chance to read it yet. I hope you’ll read “My Football Coach Husband Has Three Daughters—And What a Sweet Gift”

Hang in there, 

Beth Walker

Dear Veteran's Coach's Wive Series

Dear Veteran Coach’s Wife: How Do I Hold on to a Career I Love?

It’s Monday, which means we’re answering another question in our Veteran Coach’s Wife series.

QUESTION FROM A COACH’S WIFE

Dear Veteran Coach’s Wife, 

How do you handle your husband’s career and moves always being above your own career goals? How do you not lose yourself once adding kids in the mix who will rely heavily on you more than him with how much he’s gone?

Signed,

Loving My Career

 

Answers from Veteran Coaches Wives

 

Dear Loving My Career,

This is the age-old dilemma for all of us coach’s wives. I was fortunate enough to know before I figured out my career that I would be marrying a coach, so I picked one that was needed everywhere. But even that didn’t make taking a back seat to moves and his career path easy. I’ve seen enough wives not let their coach’s career get in the way of theirs to know it is very possible. But it was a LOT of work and stress for them. When kids came into the picture, I realized just how true the saying “it takes a village” is. You won’t be able to do it all yourself and you won’t be able to rely on coach most of the time.

I thought becoming a stay-at-home mom would ease the burden a little by at least taking job demands and responsibilities out of the equation, but it only increased the “loss of self” aspect I was wrestling with. The truth is there isn’t one answer. It depends on each wife, each coach, each job, and even each stage of life. It’s a constant re-evaluation of your family’s priorities. You will need to decide on what can wait. For us, it’s a constant juggle to make those pieces fit. It’s realizing that there’s no such thing as balance, but instead, it is a sliding scale. When the kids are little, it might have to slide more towards home for you, but that doesn’t mean it’s fixed there. Find your people, and if you can’t find them for free, a reliable babysitter will be worth every penny. Figure out what you want and who you want to be, and be flexible and willing enough to make it work. 

Jess Gilardi

 

Dear Loving My Career,

Dang, this is such a hard part of being a coach’s wife. I think one of the most important things for us was to establish that we both wanted to support one another’s career goals, but that they were going to come at different times. Coaching careers are such a “ladder” and frequently involve moves. My career development, on the other hand, came in fits and spurts between what he was up to. It seems like his career was taking “precedence” but, in all honesty, mine was more flexible than his. I could pick mine up and figure it out wherever we went, he only had so many job choices.

He has absolutely sacrificed too by staying places longer than he wanted, letting me take a lower salary/no salary to return to school, etc. We did make a goal to knock out as much schooling as we could before kids came and that was a great blessing. I don’t feel left behind now, but it took me longer to get here than if I were single or married to a banker who stayed in the same town all his life. But, I don’t think I’ll give him up 🙂

Signed, 

I feel your struggle

 

Dear Loving My Career,

When my husband and I married close to twenty years ago the career I currently have didn’t exist. Regardless, if I had to write a job description from scratch and make up a job for myself I don’t think I could think of anything more perfect for my skills, gifts, and interests than what I do on a daily basis. The best part is that I work from home and most days I even set my own schedule.  But you know what? It took a lot of starts and stops before I found this career path. Every time I started a new job I was positive I’d found “my perfect fit” for a career. I finally realized that I needed to stop trying to force things to fit for everyone else and remember that God knew where he was moving our family and he knew my gifts, strengths, and desires.

The reality is that there are plenty of families that wrestle with balancing family and career that aren’t involved with coaching. There are many decisions to make regarding budgets, what is best for your kids at each stage of life, and what is best for you and your husband mentally, physically, and emotionally. Running around juggling a career and family is exhausting even without coaching!

Marriage is a partnership. We thrive when we both have the opportunity to pursue our passions, use our gifts, talents, and strengths. That doesn’t mean we will always use them in the same way at the same time. I encourage you to take life one stage at a time and look for out-of-the-box opportunities.  It’s amazing how many people can job share or work remotely if they ask. Even professors, doctors, and counselors can work remotely these days. Don’t assume you can’t do something forever even if you have to set something aside for a little while it doesn’t mean you can’t keep your skills sharp for the future!

Cheering you on!

Beth Walker

 

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Dear Veteran's Coach's Wive Series

Dear Veteran Coach’s Wife: This Move Feels Too Risky

Note to Readers: This post is part of an ongoing series “Dear Veteran Coach’s Wife” and includes one question from a wife submitted anonymously. There are also several responses from veteran wives which offer encouragement, suggestions, and life examples. We can only write from our own personal experiences, but we’re committed to answering honestly and thoroughly to the best of our abilities.

 

Question from a Coach’s Wife

 

Dear Veteran Coach’s Wife,

My husband just got offered a position at his DREAM school. He has talked about this being his ideal situation since we were in college. The issue is it’s several hours from my hometown where I’ve lived my whole life and he’s been for the last 7 years of his. We are heavily involved in our community and our church. Everywhere we go we see people we love.

I love my job and it’s difficult to see how sacrificing moving to a smaller community where the cost of living higher and homes are more expensive is the best decision. While I am so happy for him, I can’t picture leaving our lives.  

Feeling discouraged, distraught, and like I am truly grieving. 

 

Answers from Veteran Coaches Wives

Dear Discouraged and Grieving,

I have been where you are. We had a nice house in an even nicer neighborhood. I had gotten a job less than five minutes away teaching a grade with no testing and at a school with major and administration parental support. Both our families were in the area, and I finally felt content-even-happy- in my job. And then my husband got offered his first head baseball position. Four hours away. We honestly knew it was a God thing as He worked out the details seamlessly, but I did cry the entire way home after seeing the tiny town and having four job interviews in one day. But we had a peace about it so we packed up and moved. It wasn’t easy but God allowed it to happen. This was before kids. 

When we got there, I was in a job that I did not prefer, I got pregnant right away, four hours from anyone we knew, and he started working seven days a week for the first time as assistant football. It was an awful year, I won’t lie. However, a lot of it was my attitude. I was exhausted, pregnant for the first time, hours from friends and family, and almost an hour from civilization [aka Target or Starbucks]. I became very bitter and resentful. This is probably not encouraging you right now but have faith. 

We thought we would be there a year or two but stayed four before the next move. We got plugged into a church that we still miss and made lifelong friendships. We got to live in a wonderful rental house with dreamy views for two of those four years. 

It was hard. I cried a lot. But I know God had his hand in it as well. I would pray about it apart and together. Leaving what you know and love is always hard-and yes, a true grieving process. But God walks next to you, and He sends who and what you need when you need it. I will be praying for guidance and clear direction and also that your heart is softened once you get there. If your husband has been waiting on this and God is opening the door, then it will be worth it. 

Best of luck, 

Been there, done that, and He provided

 

Dear Feeling discouraged, distraught, and truly grieving,

While I cannot guarantee that every coach’s wife’s journey will be the same, I can offer you the benefit of hindsight from 13 years after going through a similar scenario. When I met and married my coach, I swore that I was never, ever, ever leaving my hometown. I agreed to go wherever the job took us, but spent every second praying and plotting how to make it possible for him to move up in his career while staying put.

I too couldn’t see how me sacrificing everything I’ve ever known and pretty much everybody I’ve ever loved for his dream could be a good decision. But, after all these years and all this time, I can see that I wasn’t doing it for him, not really. It was all for me. I’ve met a lot more people in a few new places that I grew to love, found more communities that I could give my heart and support to, and a completely different job that ignited a fire in me that I had no idea was even possible. I am not the same person I was in my hometown, and it’s 100% for the better.

I’m not saying it was without challenges or heartbreak. There were in fact many, many, many of both. But, if I had the option to make the decision to leave all over again, I would go- hands down, without question (this time, the first time involved a lot of hesitation and questioning.) While I’m not saying that moving is necessarily your answer, I’m just offering a few points to ponder. Is it possible that you might not know what’s best for you? Could it be that you are giving up good for great? Would it be possible for your heart to grow bigger and stronger to include new people, new places, and a different life?

Wishing you all the love and clarity needed to make this difficult decision,

Jess Gilardi

 

Dear Discouraged and Grieving,

The best things in life often start out scary! Your situation sounds so familiar to me and to so many others. After living away from my family for so many years we finally moved to the same town as my parents with our first baby. And one year later my husband was offered a job he wanted so badly that was 8 hours away. I did not want to pick up and move again that soon. I was so happy with my job and having my parents close by to babysit but eventually, I let my husband drive me across the state to check it out. I went with every intention of seeing everything in person to convince my husband this wasn’t the right move for us. The joke was on me because we both signed letters of intent less than 24 hours later. Then everything quickly fell into place, our house sold in three days and three weeks later we loaded up and made it to our new community. This move has been our best yet, the school district is the best we’ve ever worked in and we have made some amazing friends. 

This move showed me that you can’t fight God’s plan or his perfect timing. If your husband is being pulled so strongly towards this opportunity, crack your heart open just a little and see where it leads. 

 

Sincerely,

Been There Done That

 

Dear Feeling Discouraged,

Dang, this is hard. Leaving comfort and family is no small consideration. I’ll share what I’ve learned through our experiences. We were in a great situation when my husband was recruited for a coveted job. Leaving our people was awful, and our experience in the new place was…awful. In fact, we eventually got fired. Sounds like it was the wrong decision, right? Except, when I was moved out of my/our comfort zone, I flourished in ways I never expected. It was as though being uncomfortable in our lives made me braver as a person. In fact, it’s how I ever left my comfy profession and became a writer.

Truly, I have no idea if you should move. Coaches tend to have itchy feet so I would wonder if you don’t take this one if he’ll look for others as time goes on that are less “dreamy”? Regardless, whatever you choose, pray that you choose it together and be all in as a couple leaving or all in as a couple staying. And, that you flourish as a person in your current situation, or in the less desirable one. We’ve had awesome situations and sucky situations and God has sustained us in both. He goes (or stays) wherever we are.

I’ll end with this, a blog post I wrote about (yet another move) loving where we were but also missing the last place. I hope my post Learning to Grow Love Plants blesses you. 

Sincerely,

Sister Who Has Been Stretched

 

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Dear New Wife Who Touched My Heart

Dear New Wife Who Touched My Heart

Dear New Wife Who Touched My Heart,

As a coach’s wife in an interracial marriage who will celebrate my twentieth anniversary this summer, I wanted to let you know how much I’ve appreciated your boldness over the past few months. I’m not sure you realize how brave you are, but as someone who has spent a few decades hearing her marriage is something God frowns on simply because of the color of my skin, well, I think you’re courageous.

I’m not the only one. I happen to have the unique position of seeing the analytics for the Friday Night Wives website and social media, and your blog posts are some of the most viewed, even if they don’t seem to receive a lot of public interaction.

Crystal, you said the quiet parts out loud. But, then again, it seems that you’ve had quite the unwelcoming start to your young marriage. I’m sorry for that. I wish I could stay things will get easier; however, you are facing situations that haven’t changed in at least two decades.

Just like you, I can only share my experiences. I’ve been around the football world a little longer than you, so I thought it might be helpful to let you know that you are seen and heard. My heart broke as you shared with the world what I’ve known for two decades. Interracial couples are prevented from pursuing jobs in certain communities because the towns aren’t accepting of a couple’s love.

The issue for black coaches runs much deeper than who they choose to marry. The most difficult part is that much of this could change if coaches treated each other with the same respect they hope to receive from others.

Unequal Hiring Practices

As a head football coach at the college level, I’ve stood next to my husband and heard every rationale as to why white coaches were passed over for the positions my husband received.

  • The college needed to meet a diversity quota
  • The college thought minorities would stay longer with a black head coach
  • The college was looking to diversify the campus as part of a long-term plan
  • The white coach would have been hired if they applied but knew the college wanted to look at minorities, so they didn’t apply

Every statement assumed my husband received his job because of the color of his skin. They ignored his resume, experience, and football knowledge. Yet those same coaches have no problem acknowledging they received most of their coaching jobs because of who they knew and the people who hired them when they were promoted.

I’ve often wondered if these same men walk up to random white coaches and say things like, “Oh yeah, I was going to apply for that job, but I knew the school had a white hiring quota to meet.”

The intention may not be to imply that a black coach isn’t qualified for the job they have, but that is exactly what happens. It’s a bold assumption for someone to determine if they know a stranger’s resume or know they are a better interviewer and understand the school’s hiring needs!

And to be clear here, hiring quotas don’t actually exist. Only in the NFL are they required to interview minority coaches. Nowhere does it say anyone must employ anyone.

Pay Discrepancy

Every year USA Today releases the salaries for the head coaches for the NCAA Head Coaches. Here’s the list of NCAAF Coaches as of November 2020, and here’s the list of NCAA Basketball Coach Pay as of March 2021.

Of course, it’s challenging to have a conversation about fair pay when the head coaches’ percentage is so low. The Louisville Courier-Journal explains:

Of the 1,073 head coaches in NCAA sports at Power Five programs, only 79, or 7.4%, are Black.

Of the 65 Power Five schools, 15 do not employ a single Black head coach in any NCAA sport, though seven of those schools do have at least one other head coach of color.  

Safety When Traveling

For years we have had to remind our sons they don’t have to privilege of wearing their hoods up when they are walking outside regardless of how cold it is. We tell them they can’t touch items on store shelves they think are interesting or put their hands in their pockets when walking through a store.

Now, with a child preparing to drive, I find myself rehearsing an extensive list of warnings. “Remember, if you get pulled over, keep your hands visible at all times. Don’t open the car door, don’t make sudden movements, and always speak respectfully.” I try to speak in a calming tone because I don’t want to increase the already present fear.

But there’s another layer to the concern that I hold as a coach’s wife married to a black coach. Whether during the recruiting season or while in charge of a bus full of athletes, there have been times when I’ve found myself momentarily filled with anxiety. What if the wrong person is driving this week? What if Ordell pulls off at the wrong stop while recruiting? What if he booked a hotel in the wrong area?

These questions may seem silly however they started from a personal experience. An administrator of a previous college gave me a map before a road with a list of towns to avoid when traveling with my sons.

What Can We Do?

Crystal, I know that this post may affirm your experiences. But it could also leave you feeling hopeless if I don’t offer some suggestions on how to get through the difficult moments. Of course, nothing is foolproof, but I’ve found that the best thing I can do is listen. My husband has dealt with the challenges of life as a black man in America his entire life. As his partner, it’s my job to hear him and strive to see his side of a situation just like I want him to do for me.

Next, I spend a lot of time praying. God is the God of justice. In the book of Amos, God tells the Prophet that the Israelites are going to face divine intervention. God is bothered by the Israelites practice of religion without righteousness. By oppressing the poor and failing to practice justice, the Israelites were behaving unrighteously; justice was to be enacted as a core of God’s message in Amos’ prophetic teachings.

Amos Chapter 5 reveals this. A few of my favorite verses to pray are:

  • For the Lord says to the house of Israel: Seek me and live!
  • Those who turn justice into wormwood also throw righteousness to the ground.
  • 14-15. Pursue good and not evil so that you may live, and the Lord, the God of Armies, will be with you as you have claimed. Hate evil and love good; establish justice at the city gate.
  • But let justice flow like water, and righteousness, like an unfailing stream.

I stay connected to community that strives to value all coaches equally. I make sure my husband has the resources and community he needs. We can’t shoulder these things by ourselves. There are times when I send a voxer message to a girlfriend who understands my stress because she shares it. Find these friends and hold them close.

I’m grateful for your willingness to speak up. I hope you’ll keep sharing your story. Just know that as difficult as your walk is right now, these moments may lighten up and flare up again. There is a community of women who have been in your shoes. Our experiences vary, but our advice comes from the heart.

 

Check out these resources:

National Coalition of Minority Football Coaches

Minority Coaches Association

NCAA Leadership Collective

Minority Coaches Association of Georgia

Missouri Minority Coaches Association