And in a world, a culture, and an industry where women feel obligated to give until they break, I think that’s the best example of what any one should be, not just a head coach’s wife.
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.
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 a head coach’s wife that is trying to be a wife “leader” but is severely unfair? She and her children are allowed at practices/events but other wives aren’t informed of these opportunities. Parking passes, reserved seatings, event passes, wives get-togethers are all chosen by her and not provided for everyone. Some opportunities are even offered to her friends and family instead of staff wives. What do you do when the head coach’s wife is nice to your face and then talks poorly about you behind your back? Help!
Head Coach’s Wife Conflict
ANSWERS FROM VETERAN COACHES WIVEs
Dear Head Coach’s Wife Conflict,
First, let me offer my sincerest apologies to you. I don’t have to imagine how you feel. I have been there. Here are some suggestions for dealing with this:
First, stay calm; easier said than done.
When things happen, take 30 seconds to collect, process, and think; this will keep you from retaliating or saying something you don’t mean at the moment. You are going to have to make a choice here: do you confront the head coach’s wife or not?
Second, you need to discuss this with your husband. If he is adamant that you don’t confront her; respect his decision. I would make it clear that he is expected to help you with parking passes, reserved seating details, and other things related to going to games. It will be hard to go that road (I have done it before with my mother), but I imagine you’re not the only one left out in the cold. Do your best to be positive; take care of your family, your husband’s players, and find a friend outside the wives group that loves your team. When my mother and I were in this situation, we chose not to confront the other wife. My mother explained to me that things would not change, and probably get worse, especially for my dad.
At the time, I wanted my mom and me to stand up for ourselves, but looking back now with more years under my belt, she was right. Whatever you decide, you need to have full support from your husband. That is the relationship you need to protect.
Dear Head Coach’s Wife Conflict,
Eek, this is a tough one. There are difficult people in every area of life but, when it’s in the coaching sphere it seems extra hard because we’re all supposed to be on the same team, right?! We’ve been at several different schools, some with super supportive wives and some with less-than-supportive. Sadly, I have not found either to change. They have remained in either the supportive or the unsupportive category throughout our time despite efforts to connect, kindness, etc. All that to say, we are called to our own integrity, regardless of how someone else acts.
I’m so bummed that you aren’t getting those choices that you mentioned. If there are wives who are trustworthy, cling to them, but don’t engage in “common enemy intimacy” (kudos to Brene Brown for the term). Y’all can be friends and support one another without bonding over your dislike of her leadership. Make the best of the situation as is and, if anything holds true in coaching, it will change at some point!
Sometimes People Disappoint Us
My first year as a head coach’s wife was filled with more learning than all the other fifteen years combined. I wasted a lot of time and energy waiting and wishing. I didn’t use the time I was given to make as big a mark as I could and should have because my focus was elsewhere.
What does this kinda-famous-by-proxy leadership mean during a pandemic…in an election year…in a time when civil rights and racial injustices are major societal players as well? Oh, and the hardships and heartaches unique to each community in typical circumstances—those haven’t gone away either.