I’ve been a coach’s wife for 17 seasons and married for 20 years. Young and in college, I married a pre-med student. A year after we were married, I could tell football still had his heart and he changed his major. I didn’t choose this life, the coach’s wife life chose me.
In those 17 seasons of being a coach’s wife, things have changed dramatically. The importance of winning is at an all-time high. Building a program is what everyone wants as long as it can be done in one season. I’ve seen a cultural shift in coaching, and it’s easy for the coach and his family to get swept into it.
Those in the stands mostly base my husband’s worth on his win/loss record and the trend seems to be to add the wife and the kids into this crazy system of worth. What always strikes me as funny is holding high school football coaches to such a crazy standard.
It’s easy to see how a loss or a bad season can wreck you. A few years ago, during a rebuilding year we knew would be difficult, I’d kiss my husband on game day as he was walking out the door and tell him,
“Win or Lose, We Are Still Us!”
This served as a reminder that the games do not reflect who we are. Our identity isn’t wrapped up in winning or losing. We are more than the win/loss record. In the wins and in the losses, we are the same people. We might have more joy showing on our face after a win, but that win doesn’t make us a better person. We might be down after a loss but that loss doesn’t make us a bad person. Fundamentally, who we are never waivers in the season and is never defined by a record. It sounds simple but the coaching life can sometimes put you in a place where you need to hear this and get back on track.
Coaches’ wives need to hear this too. Especially while sitting in the stands hearing fans complain (and let’s be honest, even when we are winning there will be complaints). When there are only 11 spots on the field and more than 11 kids on the team, there will almost always be someone upset. Thick skin is a must for coaches’ wives.
Please remind yourself at the games or when you are at the grocery store and hear someone on the other aisle complaining about your husband, “Win or Lose, We are Still Us,” and have the courage to go down that aisle, smile, and say “Hello” as you pass by. Their words, although hurtful, never need to penetrate deeply enough to change who you are.
So when the final buzzer sounds and I make my way onto the field to give my husband a kiss and a hug, no matter the outcome I whisper in his ear, “Win or Lose, We Are Still Us.” And he hugs me a little tighter each time, his way of thanking me for keeping us grounded in this all important truth.