You see, my husband is a high school football coach, and he’s been married to the game for a really, really, long time. They were a thing long before he and I were a thing. And when we started dating, I had to come to terms with the rules of engagement.
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.
So, whether we go to a cookout, munch on samples at Costco, or even vacation across international waters, he’s almost always guaranteed to be wearing at least one high school football item.
I want my children to learn through you that one person can make a difference and that the most effective way to lead is not through words, but through one’s actions.
You see I never thought the small town we landed in would end up being a place where we had to worry about the politics of coaching. We were wrong.
Yes, football and being a football family requires physical demands and emotional commitments from everyone involved. There are so many lonely dinners and difficult bath times. There are so many rushed labor-day cookouts and daddy-less trick-or-treats. There are so many tears from kids who miss their daddies -- and occasionally from mamas missing them too. Because there may not be crying in baseball, but believe me, there is crying in football. A lot of crying.
But most of those tears are the good kind.
But there is a difference between being familiar with a community and feeling at home isn’t there? Familiarity allows us a certain level of safety, but when we are at home we can rest.
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.
He doesn’t have favorites. He’s not purposely or viciously not playing your kid. There’s more than just pure talent that goes into making that decision. Attitude and effort go a lot further than you think. He doesn’t have it out for your kid. He is simply trying to teach them there are consequences for actions and teamwork will always take them further in life than selfish ambition.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
I can hear my voice calling out to my son playing in the summer heat in the backyard way past his bedtime.
I can feel the rush of excitement when my stepson and stepdaughter run up the brick steps, fling open the front door at Thanksgiving Break, and call out to us, “we’re home!”
And I know because my family will feel at home here, that I will be just fine starting over too.
But as I begin to break down and cry out to my God, I’m reminded of this truth: I am not alone.
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.
If God can weep for a friend, and set that as an example that wasn’t hidden or left out of the books … surely we can weep too. So I gave myself permission to grieve. I wept. If anything, it also gave my kids permission to feel their emotions too.