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To the Young Mama in the Middle of the Season

It’s the middle of the season.

The excitement and novelty of a new season and new team has died down. We’re not yet to the playoffs when the whole town is vibrating with pride and bleeding school colors. District games are underway and tensions are high with so many must-win games up ahead. Your husband’s hours are getting longer, if that’s even possible, and your schedule is filling up now that school is in full swing.

Your evenings consist of taking the biggest to soccer practice and the middle to piano just in time to turn around and head back to soccer practice to pick her up. Then, the baby is crying because apparently she can’t feed herself.

Some days, you manage to make it up to practice so the kids can see their dad, even if it’s only from a distance.

It’s the middle of the season.

Game nights are … difficult. The kids are exhausted from a full week of school. Whether they make it through the whole game is a crap shoot and even if they do, their little sleep deprived souls will be in shambles for the rest of the weekend. You’ll be the only one around to pick up the pieces.

It’s the middle of the season.

The weekend comes. You get the kids ready for all the things: Big Kid’s soccer game (which never fails to be the 8 o’clock game… who schedules this crap?), middle kid’s friend’s birthday party at 10. You know you said you’d help out at that church event, but you realize by noon everyone is DONE. With fingertips full of guilt, you text to let them know you won’t be able to make it. Stop with the guilt. You’re doing the best you can.

Your friend calls you about joining some girls for dinner tomorrow night, but you don’t have money for a babysitter (“Yes, he works Sundays, too”). And even if you did, you’re not sure you’d have the energy to put a bra on, much less makeup.

It’s the middle of the season.

Your husband comes home after all the kids are asleep and tells you about how the staff ate lunch at Pizza Hut and how the team had a ping pong tournament and he and his partner won. He tells you about kicking that one kid out of practice today and letting another cry on his shoulder about stuff that makes your stomach hurt.

Meanwhile, you tell him about how your middle child followed you around the house all the ding dang day and how the baby smeared poop EVERYWHERE and you didn’t throw up cleaning it. #winningatmotherhood. You feel a little silly telling him about your day and wonder silently if he really cares.

Y’all give each other a tight, lingering hug. Then sit down on the couch together, turn on ESPN, and see who falls asleep first.

It’s the middle of the season.

And you’re lonely.

You love this season. But you also feel like your life is put on hold until it’s over because you’re too busy being everything for everyone.

You need help. You need reinforcements. You need friendship and companionship and just to feel less alone.

Oh, mama. You’re not alone.

You. Are. Not. A. Lone.

Coaches wives everywhere are with you. They are cheering you on and standing with you in your loneliness. They feel it too.

It’s the middle of the season.

And you might feel forgotten. You might feel unseen or unimportant.

You aren’t.

That coach, the one who is working so hard and so long, he knows what you’re doing behind the scenes. He might not say it loud enough but he sees you and he’s thankful for you.

And those other coaches’ wives, the ones whose kids are a little bit older, the ones who sit by you on game nights and help you pack up all your stuff afterward, they know how hard and draining it is. They’ll be there for you if you’ll just ask.

And those players, the ones you cook for and clean for, the ones you loan your children’s father to for a few months to love on, they may not have the words to say it but they are so grateful for the way you’re sacrificing for them.

You, sweet mama in the middle of the season, are not forgotten.

By me, by your husband, or by your God.

It’s the middle of the season.

Hang on. We’re halfway there.

You love this season. But you also feel like your life is put on hold until it's over because you're too busy being everything for everyone. You need help. You need reinforcements. You need friendship and companionship and just to feel less alone. Oh, mama. You're not alone. You. Are. Not. A. Lone.

The Coaches' Wives Top Ten

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.

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Living in the Space Between Winning and Losing

Yes, we step into that space and remind our men of the kids who do listen … of the kids who become adults and still reach out … of the kids who needed a surrogate father … of the kids who played out of their shoes … of the kids who just need one caring adult and our men stepped into the space, the space between winning and losing—and that made all the difference.

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Dear Coach, A Little Help Buying a Gift for Your Wife

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.

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Surviving the “What Might Have Beens” of Sports

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. 

In Defense of “The Parents”: a Reminder for the Coaching Family

Remember that we coach in their sacred spaces. We are coaching the people they have loved, raised, cried, and prayed over long before we got them. For some, we are coaching their validation of self. I’m not making excuses for poor behavior, I’m offering a space for us to gather some empathy for the seemingly extreme reactions.

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