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.
This guy looked just like my husband but without the stress and fatigue of football that he usually wears! My yard started looking amazing, too! This new guy was out there every weekend and sometimes after school—blowing leaves, bagging up sticks, playing with the dogs. It was getting really hard not to fall for this man.
But then the games stopped. Sports and this lifestyle came to a screeching halt. Suddenly, he was home all the time.
I have loved him through the perfect, undefeated, state championship seasons, the heartbreak of great competitive losses, and the fickleness of high school athletics. After years of learning how to accept that he’s perfectly alright with doing NOTHING for literally H O U R S at a time except watching game after game, he began more than one morning of this holiday break with something like, “Babe, which of your projects would you like me to help you with today?”
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.
You, and me, and thousands of coaches’ wives all over this country are in this together. Knowing we are done where we are, possibly unsure of where we are headed, but all collectively grieving, trying not to worry, and praying.
My football coach husband turned to me and said, “How do you feel about being a coach’s wife?”
My whole family had been sick with a stomach bug. With four kids, this is the only thing they have shared with each other—and finally they shared it with me.
I went to work feeling exceptionally queasy and left my daughter home with Coach. I felt awful until I came to the cafeteria and they were serving chili dogs.
Maybe eating will help it pass.
And it did. This stomach bug is not so bad after all.
When I came home, I found my daughter had not been able to eat all day. And then I began to realize that I didn’t have the same kind of sickness as she did.
I was off to the drug store. Within minutes, I saw two pink lines (and shed a few tears). I broke the news to Coach.
I was pregnant.
Our lives were already full and happy with three rambunctious boys and one sweet and sassy girl. We thought our family was complete. To complicate things, Coach just accepted a new position one week before. We were making the move to a new state.
I was overwhelmed and although I knew that a baby should be a celebration—the timing was very bad. Then Coach asked the all-important question—“When’s the baby due?”
“October,” I replied.
His response was predictable. “DURING FOOTBALL SEASON?!?” I shrugged my shoulders. What could I do about it? This was not part of the plan.
So if you are facing something as beautifully unexpected as I did, here are some thoughts to help along the way.
Expect to go alone at times.
In my first pregnancy, Coach went with me to all the appointments. He was very involved with the process—appointments, ultrasounds and registries. But in spring, it was easy to work around his schedule. Things are different in season. I was 20 weeks along when we came to our new school. I found a new doctor and made every appointment alone. Every. Single. One. I drove Coach by the hospital a week before my due date. He met my doctor just before I delivered. He was largely disconnected to that part of my pregnancy. And I understood. I decided to make the most of it. I used the long drive to listen to my favorite playlists. I enjoyed the changing of the leaves. I treasured that time alone.
Expect to experience your community in a new way.
In the first weeks at our new school, it was difficult to connect with parents and players. A couple of sweet parents decided to welcome our baby in a special way—they threw a “tailgating” baby shower! It broke the ice in such a unique way as they willingly showered us with diapers and gift cards. Babies tend to bring people together.
Expect to make some plans around Coach’s schedule.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could anticipate exactly when baby will come? I imagined myself going into labor in the middle of a football game. I could visualize the scene: the cart would pick me up and drive me off the field. As they put me into the ambulance, I would give the thumbs up; and Coach would just keep on calling the plays. But that’s not how it went. I had a planned C-Section. Doc gave me a date and it was a Wednesday. It only took a minute to realize that it was the week of our cross-town rival. “No good,” I told her. “My husband’s a football coach. He says I should pick a Monday, and that week will not work.” She gave me a blank stare and put me down for the following Monday. She didn’t understand (most people don’t) and that’s ok. Coach was able to enjoy his newborn so much more when that game was out of the way.
Expect to take your newborn to a few games (if you want to).
Of all the “Baby’s Firsts” this one is my favorite. Most of my babies made their debut at the spring game. But a baby born in season would be more like a new team mascot. She was two weeks old at her first game. I was still dealing with a handful of postpartum issues, but I bundled her up on that chilly night and truly enjoyed the game. She was no trouble—everyone wanted to hold her and she slept through everything. Weeks later, I was holding her as I ran 40 yards down the sideline to see the game winning touchdown of the championship game. So add a onesie in team colors to your registry or find something perfect for baby here, and go to the game! But if you decide it’s too much, don’t feel guilty! You’re the mom.
Expect your life to be imperfect and messy and beautiful.
There will be late nights, early mornings, cluster feedings, tears, hormones, and laundry. So. Much. Laundry. Some days you will be so happy and others you will be so overwhelmed. Ask for help. Reach out to your tribe. Or head on over to Friday Night Wives for advice. Please hear me—we know and we understand. You will adjust to your new normal.
Remember this—God has already had this in his perfect plan for you. Psalm 18:30 and 32 say, “As for God, his way is perfect…and (he) maketh my way perfect.” Whether or not you expected this—God did. So lean on your community, love your Coach, and trust God.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on February 3, 2020, and has been updated in February 2021 for freshness, accuracy, and completeness.
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.
In case you are eyeball deep in a playoff run, constantly scrolling Football Scoop, about to start coaching yet another sport, or already looking at next year’s prospects, let me remind you that it is already December. This means your amazing, remarkable, beautiful, intelligent, epic wife/fiance/girlfriend is soon to need some gifts that match her amazing-ness.
I am not just a coach's wife and that's okay. I'm allowed to be selfish and think about myself and my other identities. I'm a wife, a daughter, a friend, an educator, an advocate, and a fur mom.
You see her at every game. She’s usually the one with all the kids, and the stuff, and dragging in right at kickoff because something always seems to happen on Friday evening right when she needs to leave.
We are partners in ife. For us, that life includes football and all it entails. Please know, Coach, just because you are in-season, that doesn’t mean my needs are put on hold. I don’t need less of your time or attention. I don’t need less of your focus or your love. I don’t need less physical closeness and intimacy.
Being a coach’s wife is rarely ever fair ladies, in the trenches of any season, in the midst of early childhood years when every need relies on you, or even if it’s only you and your man—it is rarely fair. Nevertheless, every good football coach will tell you to never leave the game in the hand of the ref—don’t count on fair.
And then there are the days when I want nothing more than to support you but I have nothing to give. I am physically exhausted, mentally spent, and I think if I hear one more spiel about offensive strategy or next week's opponent I will pull my hair out. Those days are hard.
Because they love those kids and they love their jobs, they sometimes get going so fast they can’t keep up―and that’s where the pacesetter becomes valuable. For many families, that pacesetter is you.
But, I have come out of my typical “moving funk” years ahead of normal. All because I kept moving forward, doing the next right thing, even when I didn’t want to or didn’t feel like it. Unpack that box. Accept that invitation from a new neighbor. Decorate that room. Explore your new surroundings. Ask for (or accept) help.
I knew it would be sad to lose a game. Or many games. Losing is never fun. Sure there would be sad times. But I didn’t know that we would always keep disappointment in tow. As a coach’s wife disappointment follows you like a flatbed truck and manifests itself in so many ways that can be hard to breathe.
I looked up from my phone as the car made one last slow turn to find myself at Fredericksburg High School’s football stadium. It’s the third stadium we have seen on this trip having turned off the highway twice to “check out the facilities.” Romance, ladies, with a capital R.
I hate this feeling of distance, like you're holding me at arms length, even if it's just to protect me. Protect me from issues at work. Protect me from hard stories. Protect me from the anxieties racing through your head.