What I choose to dwell on will dominate my thoughts, emotions, and responses. So instead of hopping on the roller coaster of preseason camp, I journal, I take a walk, I grab coffee with a girlfriend, and I talk about only positive things.
It may be bittersweet, but sometimes change opens up a whole new happiness for you that you weren’t anticipating.
It seems like an eternity right now, but they will one day not cry when coach is actually around. They will go to him when he walks through the door, instead of clinging to you.
Once I heard a parent fussing that “these coaches only work with these boys for 3-4 months out of the year…” I laughed out loud at the time. But the other day, it got me thinking. Every career, every position, every role in this life has its seasons.
I’m a teacher. August and September are super busy. Holidays are crazy but fun. Winter months are slow and steady. Spring fever hits, and summer brings fun and refreshment. Then it all cycles back around.
The seasons for a coach’s family work the same way.
Off-season. The months before the season are slow and steady, filled with weight lifting, conditioning, fundraising, etc. The weeks before become a little anxious. Coach is knee-deep in planning and prepping. I’m planning and prepping too, for other reasons.
Tryouts. There’s a little jittery excitement. The second week or so isn’t quite so jittery. I find myself on edge, as I readjust and brace for the heavy load of holding everyone steady for the months ahead. Transitions and shifts do that.
Pre-season. It’s so good to see coach back on the field. It’s good to see the boys we’re watching grow up back on that field. I’m a little nervous, no matter what. If last season was hard, I hope this season will be better. If last season was great, I hope they can continue with that momentum. I’ve learned that each season’s success will affect all of those around them, so I do all that I can do. Pray. Pray that the boys stay healthy and reach their goals. Pray the coaches remember that they were created for this, even when the pressure is high. Pray for the families as we try to support them the best ways we can.
Games. This is the equivalent to the holidays for school children. The mad rush from school, home for homework and supper, rush to one child’s little league game, back across town to daddy’s game, and fall into bed at 10 p.m. or so. The little ones live off of smiles from the dugout, high fives, and concession stand candy during those months. It’s wonderful, and a little insane.
Suddenly over. How is it that we’re never quite ready for this? The day after the season is like the day after Christmas. It’s hard to let go. It’s sad for our children as they realize they won’t see “their boys” everyday anymore. And even though it’s almost summer, it feels like midwinter as we slink back into what most consider a normal schedule. Every year we find ourselves asking, “What do we do now?”
The weeks following the season are hard at our house. Coach has to clean out the locker room, take up jerseys, plan the awards. At the same time, he’s home again, and I have to navigate this home-life limbo because my partner is back. After being the “head coach of the home team” for a while (as my husband calls it), I admit it takes a minute to remind myself to step back. We’ve almost been running two separate teams for months, and now it’s time to bring it back together. Then there’s graduation, that bittersweet period where you have to temper sadness with pride. Again, transition and shift.
Summer brings refreshment and reflection. Coach is planning for next year. I am, too. Maybe next year I’ll meal plan better. Maybe next year the baby will be able to walk a little steadier so we can stay for more of the games. Maybe next year… But for the time being, we enjoy time as a family. Well, our immediate family. But we always look forward to getting back to business and our baseball family.
Yes we spend much of our life concentrating on “the season” —those 3-4 months of scheduled madness. The truth of it is that for this family, it’s a year-round roller coaster with up and down stages and seasons. They ebb and flow, but they eventually cycle back.
We’re over a decade into this. I’ve never known life with my coach any other way, but I’m still learning to recognize the seasons… the moods, the emotions, the shifts that affect us all. I’ve learned there’s lessons in the losses, and our biggest victories come in the form of players and relationships, rather than games. I’ve learned that we wouldn’t appreciate one season of this life without the next, and even the hard times wouldn’t be so bearable if it weren’t for the rallies in between. I’ve learned to remember when I find myself in my winter, that it won’t be long. The seasons will shift, and spring is coming…
My husband’s truck is his rolling locker and closet. Water bottles, Gatorades, and towels take up the most space. Various keys and Academy bags litter the floorboards.
But please know, on those hard days, when it seems like I'm SO over it, I don't begrudge this life we chose one bit. I am not bitter. I don't wish you were anything else but what and who you are. Not for one second.
You are making sacrifices, your Coach is making sacrifices, your kids are making sacrifices, your extended families are making sacrifices. BUT only two people made the conscious decision to live this life: you and your Coach.