I was born into football like some kids are born into wealth or politics. I grew up on bleachers and practice fields. I had seen more football by the time I graduated high school than most people probably watch in their life. I am a coach’s kid.
I knew from a young age that football was important. I knew it because I watched my mom make time to be there. I watched her run a mom’s club for the mothers of the players. I watched her organize post game meals at our house for the coaches.
I knew it was important because of the amount of his heart that my dad poured into each season. I saw the way my dad cared for his players. I knew he really did worry about them and what kind of men they would become.
I saw how the mistakes of one kid impacted many…a dumb decision causing a suspension that kept my dad up nights and cost teams a chance at success. I learned what it means to be accountable…to represent something greater than yourself whenever you act. I loved football because of the place it held in our family. I loved that my dad included us in his work. I loved the feeling of being part of the team. I became a cheerleader because it got me right down on the sidelines. And I met the love of my life because a football scholarship brought him to Muncie, Indiana to play at Ball State, the University I would attend.
I was a football player’s girlfriend much the same way I had been as a coach’s kid. I spend a good part of the game trying not to get into fights with obnoxious fans who wanted to yell at our home team coaches about playing time decisions and play calls. I traveled in the rain and snow and heat and stayed from an hour before kickoff until the bitter end to see my guy as he left the stadium. I loved him and I knew how hard it was going to be for him to leave football behind as the end of his senior year approached. He proposed and we started planning what our life would be like when he started law school. And then a GA position came open. And I quickly transitioned into coach’s wife. I learned from some of the best coaches’ wives in the business. I traveled to away games and listened as our head coach’s wife explained to a journalist from the school paper why his opening sentence discussing our big win needed to drop the “despite a rough start” intro, and I knew what kind of a coach’s wife I wanted to be.
It doesn’t sit the same way for everyone. And it certainly doesn’t need to. But for this coach’s kid the only coach’s wife it makes sense to be is the one who shows up to games early, a little nervous because I’ve followed the other team’s season, too, and I know just how tricky this game can be. I bring my five kids because we are in this football life together, and we support one another. And I expect them to watch the game, cheer for our team, be good sports and hold bathroom breaks until the offense is off the field! My heart is so full when my older two shush the fans around us when they are cheering for a first down and our hurry up offense needs quiet. I love hearing them explain procedural penalties to adult football fans in our area, and mostly I love that they bleed black and gold and love our players individually and by name. They each have favorites…although only our youngest son has expressed his allegiance to his favorite QB boldly. The others are more diplomatic, but here are certainly more Offensive Linemen on their list than any other position.
During the season I bake cookies, because I can. Because these guys are often far from home and their moms’ cookies and sometimes you just need a home baked chocolate chip! Our house is open on Thursdays to our GAs for chili and fellowship. I enjoy knowing these young men, and seeing them choose wives, start families and pursue this crazy career has been one of my favorite parts of being a coach’s wife.
I have literally driven 13 hours for a road game and sat in the stands through a hurricane. I’ve sat in heat advisories and blanketing snow, and I will keep doing it. Because I believe this football thing is important. I believe being raised in a football family has prepared me to raise my own. And someday if I look around and my sons are coaching and my daughters are in bleachers cheering on their husband’s teams I won’t be the least bit surprised. Cause I am a coach’s kid at heart.