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.
It was there, with my metaphorical house stripped to bare studs, that I realized I had built it with all the wrong things.
I started over with the basics, faith became the groundwork on which everything was rebuilt. Finding a church community and reading God’s Word was the first step.
From there, I began to realize how grace (grace for coach, this lifestyle, and most importantly myself) was necessary as the support beams. It allowed me to have the patience I needed to get through the day, the season, the storm.
After two moves and two kids under two, I finally decided that something needed to change. And if it wasn’t going to be his job, and if it wasn’t going to be our marriage, then that left only one thing—me.
These are the things that helped provide that change.
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.
Great is thy faithfulness...even when I feel alone and unknown.
Great is thy faithfulness...even when the unwanted diagnosis appears.
Great is thy faithfulness...even when Coach’s contract is not renewed.
Great is thy faithfulness...even when there is no heartbeat.
Great is thy faithfulness...even when your closest friend is unfaithful.
Great is thy faithfulness...even when they curse your name from the sidelines.
But as I begin to break down and cry out to my God, I’m reminded of this truth: I am not alone.
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.
Then, on a Saturday in October, which started like any other day, I drove about an hour away with my mom to watch a couple of coach’s scrimmages. Because of the set up of the scrimmage, we were allowed to watch from the sidelines. And that’s where I finally learned the lesson that I was not in control. No matter how hard I tried, or how much I planned, nothing was a given.
I’ve come to the conclusion that coaches' wives who develop 4 characteristics—patience, perspective, perseverance, and peace—end up being able to walk through this life with a little more determination and ease.
Just like our brother Jonah, we go places we're not supposed to go because we're human and want to do our own thing. Discernment and wisdom are of God, and when we feel anxious about a move, it can be fear of the unknown OR it can be divine insight.
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.
My coach’s wife story is one of consistently never being where I wanted or thought I should be, but always being where I needed to be. After 16 years in the coaching life, I can 100% guarantee that the "what ifs" aren’t worth anything.
So if my peace is dependent upon my own performance, my own success, my own character, my own children, my own circumstances, then I will NEVER FIND IT. Because none of those things will ever be up to par. None of those things will ever feel ENOUGH.
My fertility struggles made me feel broken and ashamed. But studying His word closer helped me to realize that God USES broken people time and time again for the biggest stories of the Bible. He can and will use my story now because I experienced the season that I did.
For a Football Coach, this is his greatest fear. And today it came true on the anniversary of the biggest win of our lives. Today I join those who are hurting, confused, and lost.
And even though it would be nice for the people around us to sing our praises, nothing will compare to the praises the Lord will sing to us quietly, alone, in worship with him.
If only MY coach had time for me like hers does. If only OUR team had that kind of fan base/support. If OUR team didn’t have the drama. If MY relationship looked like that. If MY house was designed by Joanna Gaines, THEN, then I’d have it all.
We don’t have TIME for this struggle, too. It’s so isolating. It’s hard to find time to talk to coach about it—our schedules rarely sync enough for more than goodnight hugs and kisses. In the isolation our worries grow bigger.
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 he had that seven-footer move in on his basketball team and had to sit him because he wouldn’t come to practice.
“You know how bad we could have beat that team? Hillary, he can dunk it with his feet flat on the court. And I can’t play him.”
Most coaches can spend the majority of their days thinking and conversing about all things sports. At work, church, birthday parties, and even weddings. I always catch my man in a corner discussing the previous or upcoming season with someone. And I get it! It’s the same way we women are with our babies, that awesome new lipstick, and the new Walmart grocery pickup option. (Isn’t that amazing for all you busy ladies!? With lots of young’uns?!)
So my man is something else (at least we think so). He’s a teacher, multiple sport coach, and Doctoral graduate from the UofA. He juggles a very busy schedule and somehow still is oh-so-present in our home with our three boys.
HOWEVER. This guy can’t remember that I asked him to pick up a box of diapers or that those cookies are not for him (as he devours his fifth one). We have a wall calendar visible to all, and for some reason he still forgets the party is at 2:00 and finds himself on the lawn mower instead.
But let’s sit down and relive the State Basketball Championship of ‘97. He can vividly remember who touched the ball and at what second of the game. He can mentally account for every pass, every basket, and every game-changing foul. And if “so and so” didn’t have the flu, “we could have won that game!”
So at some point in the season, sometimes multiple times, we have these heartbreaking conversations.
“If so and so wouldn’t have moved.”
“If ‘ol boy wouldn’t have gotten in trouble.”
And of course, “If my starting (insert very important position) wouldn’t have gotten hurt.”
I think every team struggles with this at some time in a season, and every coach agonizes over it in their career. It’s the inevitable. Something unknown to them will inadvertently damage that hopeful chance at a ‘ship that they just knew was gonna happen.
And it stings. The decisions that coaches have to make can be a heavy burden to carry, and sometimes the cost seems great. The “what might have been” can slowly steal their hope for the sweet victories just ahead. But I believe these situations can teach our men, and even us, to trust in our God who loves to show us how He is always working for our good!
“What ifs” can sometimes wear a deceptive disguise and tend to come in the form of many distractions. Those hardships within the journey are unavoidable, and it’s easy to fall victim to the disruption it brings to our mission.
Remembering past experiences is crucial to moving forward, and we should always consider what those encounters can offer our future. But we have to be willing to continue following our path boldly without the worry of things out of our control.
So in our home, and in this season of life, we are striving to have a “What Will Be” frame of mind.
We want to remind ourselves where we’ve been, in hopes of finding a concentrated focus on the favorable things ahead. As I look back over the many years of our life, both personal and professional, I am in awe of how God used our sometimes-devastating situations to bring us to a place of such beauty in Him. Years of loss and heartbreak turned into four beautiful sons, three of our own flesh and one “adopted.”
Job and coaching changes that brought about such risk, resulted in some of our sweetest memories and friendships.
God has always, oh-so-faithfully, made beauty of the things we thought to be our biggest source of bitterness.
So cheers to many seasons of taking those situations that our coaches beat themselves up over and encouraging their hearts to heed the lesson it may teach. And here’s to hoping they can embrace the circumstances of each uncertainty and roll through those gut punches.
Pray those obstacles that sometimes crush the spirit of your coach and his players will quickly bring them to a place of deep understanding in Him and the bigger story He is creating. Because when your will is to seek HIM in ALL things, the echo of your heart has the power to alter the lives of those you encounter, both present and future.
And believing that the “what might have been’s” that seem to linger in their minds, will be transformed into “Remember what God did in the midst of.” Your journey is unique and special. Remember that always.
Truthfully, dad can’t do all this work on his strength alone. But we are lending him to God to use in the lives of the players, coaches, and our hometown this season. And we are trusting God to move mountains.