Texas High School Football is here! The boys of fall have worked hard in the summer heat and are ready to hit the stadium under those Friday Night Lights. The band has practiced to perfection. The cheerleaders are armed with pom-poms and ready to go. Moms and Dads across Dallas are gearing up in their school colors to go cheer on their son’s team.
Then there are the coaches’ wives. While your son or daughter is at another late practice or off on the bus to a game, she is at home holding down the fort, getting kids fed and bathed and put to bed, or to their own practices and games. Her husband is working with your child while he’s missing his own child’s practice. Of course, she doesn’t hold that against you or him. In fact, she loves your child and loves that her husband is their coach. While she’s warming up her husband’s dinner plate after a long day, he updates her on your son’s latest progress. He really stepped up as the leader today, he tells her. She feels a little maternal pride because she knows this has been a goal for him all season. She knows the team needs it and that your son needs it. She’s more invested in your child than you know.
Most coaches’ wives at the high school level won’t see their husbands until seven or so Monday through Wednesday. She might get to see the back of his head on Thursday and Friday nights if she’s willing to bundle up her kids, drive to a game, and corral them in the stands. And if she’s lucky, maybe a quick hug and kiss as a reward for staying the entire game…and with that, a bonus of a crying child who wants to go on the field/ride the bus/see his Daddy for more than 3 seconds. Then she gets to load the exhausted off-schedule kids back up, drive home, during which they will fall asleep and think it’s morning time when they get home, bathe the kids, try and convince them that it is the middle of the night and no they cannot have a flippin’ Pop Tart because it is not morning time. Daddy is back at the field house Saturday morning before anyone is awake, so even though she has spent all the spents she has to spend, she keeps pushing forward. Saturday afternoon will be here soon. It’s the sweet spot of the week. The kids haven’t seen their Dad at home since Wednesday and they finally get a little quality time with him without being immediately rushed off to bed. But before they know it, it’s Sunday afternoon and he’s back at the field house for film to prepare for next week’s game. It’s a long four to five months, even for the most devoted coach’s wife.
If you see a coach’s wife this fall, give her a hug, a high five, maybe buy her a latte. If she’s your friend or family, give her lots of grace and maybe offer to watch her kids on a Saturday morning for her or offer to join her at a game. She doesn’t get much socializing time outside of Friday nights.
If your child is in sports, whether it’s football or basketball, or tennis, consider being a team player by offering a little support to the coach’s spouse. In an age where parents seem to spend their pastime in the stands critiquing and complaining about the coach, choose to recognize that he is a person and in many cases, a father and a husband. His children and his wife hear you up there. It’s easy to offer critique. It’s harder to offer encouragement. But consider the importance of the work your children’s coaches are doing.
…coaches were powerful, sometimes the most powerful influence on a child’s life.
Most of us like to think of sports as entertainment. They’re a diversion, a break from the harsh realities of life. They are dessert — nice to have but not necessary.
But for many young people, sports are not superfluous.
The games are where they learn how to compete in life. The gridiron teaches them the necessity of teamwork, and the basketball court teaches them how discipline will reap greater rewards than impulsivity can ever provide.
A coach can change a child’s perception of hard work, of competition, and maybe most importantly, of themselves.
In nearly two decades of telling the stories of successful athletes, I nearly always hear one common detail. Somewhere along the way, the kids who find ways to succeed have coaches who believed in them. For some reason, it’s difficult to believe the compliments and assurances of one’s parents. (from Coaches Have the Power to Inspire, Influence in Ways Parents Can’t)
Coaches hold a special place in the lives of our young people…and behind that coach is often a wife making his career possible. Consider one of the following simple ways to give her a little encouragement this season. (Most of these apply to a coach’s husband too!)
“Thank you for sharing your husband during the season. We know you and the kids must miss him.” Gratitude is a free gift that goes a long way.
Compliment Her Husband
There is nothing that carries me through a season more than a parent telling me how much my husband has impacted their child’s life. He is growing these guys into young men, not just good football players. These comments validate the long hours he has to spend away from us and help me to respect and appreciate the work he does when I start to feel bitter about football taking him from me. I will always treasure one email from a mom whose son was now in college. She took the time to tell me the ways my husband built up confidence and character in her son and how she credited much of his college success to him.
Walk Her to Her Car
After the game, the coach has to go get on the bus to make sure your kids get back to the school safely. It pains him to send his wife and kids into a dark parking lot without him. He hates it. Offer to walk with her to her car and maybe even help carry the diaper bag.
Play With Her Kids
Though we are at the games, we spend very little time actually watching the games…because we are watching our children. We would love it if you or your teenage daughter offered to play cars with our toddler or to walk our little one to the concession stand for a treat. Or offer to let us go to the bathroom ALONE. Five minutes here and there is all we really need. We might decline the first time, but when we really need a break, we’ll know who to go ask.
Learn Her Name
Come introduce yourself to her. You’ll know who she is. She’ll be sitting alone or with a lap full of kids away from the crowd. Even though she sits off to the side, she would still like to know a few familiar faces when she walks into the big stadium or waits to hug her husband after the game. (P.S.: She sits alone for you guys as much as for herself—it makes this introduction less awkward, trust me.) Bonus points if you learn a few things about her. Fun fact: not all coaches’ wives are teachers.
Don’t Expect the Inside Scoop from Her
Don’t bother mentioning how many camps your kid has gone to or how fast they run a hundred. Her husband makes all playing time decisions without consulting her, thank you very much.
Forgive Her For Not Knowing the Game
Most coaches’ wives I know actually do know the sport and tend to enjoy watching it. After 10 years with a coach, I know enough to kind of follow along, but I dread with every fiber in me having a parent ask me about a play or a call that just happened. I don’t speak the language! But this doesn’t reflect poorly on my husband’s coaching skills, I promise.
Be On Time
Please pick up your kids on time. While you’re “running late,” she’s running on fumes.
Be Considerate of Their Family Time
In this cell phone age, coaches are available 24-7 to parents and players. They will encourage communication and most coaches don’t mind the phone calls. It’s just part of the job, my husband tells me. But honestly, it’s hard on his wife and kids when he walks in the door from a long day with the phone to his ear and a longwinded parent on the other end of the line. Trying to keep the kids quiet when they haven’t seen Daddy all day is like containing a can of biscuits when you’ve already ripped off the wrapper. When you need to talk to a coach, start your call with, “I was wondering if we could talk for a few minutes? What’s a good time for me to call you back?” Or better yet, just text or email to set up a time. And then keep it brief.
Also, have a chat with your child about respecting his coach’s family time. I never would have dreamed of calling my coach on a weekend or evening unless it was an absolute emergency. And even then, I would have apologized profusely. Cell phones have changed this dynamic in a big way. My husband gets 20 texts a day with some of the most ridiculous questions. “Are we getting our hats in today?” “What time did you say practice is tomorrow?” “Have you seen my backpack?” “Can you come open the field house? I left my geometry book in my locker.” Ask a friend. Wait until practice. Suffer the consequences of forgetting your stuff. Unless it is a real emergency and you’ve already checked with five teammates, it can probably wait. The trivial questions grate on this coach’s wife.
Encourage Their Marriage
Did you know coaches have a dismal divorce rate? It’s around 50% among high school coaches last I checked and it gets higher as you get into college and NFL. Coaching is a very demanding job and it takes a toll on marriages. And we all know, happy wife, happy coach; unhappy wife, cranky coach. Marital encouragement (not unsolicited advice), such as gentle reminders to take care of one another are welcome. Mention to the coach something you noticed about his wife. “She sure looks at you with admiration when you’re out there.” Or to the wife, “Those kids look up to him, don’t they? He’s a really good man.” We are so busy during the season and resentment is a constant battle for a coach’s wife. We sometimes forget to look up and notice the wonderful things about our spouse. Another great way to support a marriage would be to offer to sponsor them for the Coaches Outreach Marriage Retreat. Some PTOs raise money for any coach that wants to go. See if your PTO is already doing this and if not, make it your cause. Date night gift cards, if allowed, are always very appreciated too!
Your Local Coach’s Wife