I think one of the common misconceptions I hear around coaching and football families, is the assumption that our whole family is just rolling in team swag. If one of my kids is wearing a jersey for the team or is sporting a new sweatshirt I will hear comments like “Oh, I bet you guys get all the best gear!” or “You are probably drowning in team apparel!” Um. I bought that jersey at Target like the rest of you. Or on Amazon. Or at the book store. Or we caught it at the ball game during the t-shirt toss. (Seriously, whoever is the organizer of the t-shirt toss event: have a trade in location at the gates as we walk out where my 6-year-old daughter can swap out her XXL t-shirt for a youth size. Heck, we’d take an adult small as a sleep shirt!)
Now my husband has to wear Wake gear for work, for recruiting, on game days, at camp…pretty much all the time. So HE is issued gear. And honestly, we are a Nike team so he gets pretty sweet gear. But my husband is almost a foot taller than me and a former collegiate offensive lineman himself. I can’t borrow his stuff. In fact, when I was pregnant with our first baby I remember reading a book about pregnancy and stretching your “normal” wardrobe so you didn’t have to spend a bunch of money on maternity clothes. (If I had known then I was going to have 5 kids I wouldn’t have been so concerned about getting enough wear out of my maternity jeans.) The article suggested that you just throw on one of your husband’s dress shirts and tie it over other things for coverage and to look cute. Or to use his sweatshirts when it got cold. The XXL Tall had me looking like I was drowning in fabric. It was not my best look. There are certainly wives on staff who can get away with wearing their husband’s extra jacket on game day and looking cute. OLine wives are probably not the ones.
But the thing I love about representing our school is it allows my kids to feel even more a part of the team. They already believe they are. (They started calling themselves the Back-to-Back-Ta-Baccas after our third bowl win this year!) But I think there is something extra fun for them about putting on their jersey. My youngest son 100% believes he becomes whoever’s jersey he is wearing. His #10 jersey has seen a lot of wear but it’s his favorite right now. Earlier this week we were at Target (right after the NFL Draft) and Will saw the display of Wake Forest gear and #1 jerseys and said “Oh Look! They have Alex Bachman’s!” and then his face filled with concern and he asked “Where are the Rams?? Who’s going to be Alex Bachman now?” He’s only 3.
I grew up in a football family. My dad was the head football coach at the high school I attended. I spent my childhood wearing team apparel. Once in middle school I organized a sweatshirt sale to make a little extra money. I wore those Plainfield High School sweatshirts until they were falling apart. We can usually determine what year family photos were taken by the slogan on my dad’s t-shirt. My mom was especially good at spotting anything red and blue and immediately saying “You could wear this for Plainfield games!” T-shirt, sweater, bathing suit, prom dress: it didn’t matter. If my mom saw red, white, and blue, it was game gear. But that’s why I knew then how good it felt to be a part of something bigger. To be a part of a team. It’s why I hope my kids all find team sports they love. It’s why I will encourage my sons to play football and to stick with baseball. It’s why I spend my week nights driving around the county taking my girls to softball games. Not because I’m tremendously concerned with them being stellar athletes, or winning scholarships, or playing in the pros (that kind of goal is for them to decide and pursue) I want them to know what it feels like to be a member of a team. To be so invested in others that it feels like you are just one unit striving for one goal.
In the meantime, I will creatively search for the best gear we can find. I love that we have a local apparel company Camel City Goods that makes fun (and the most comfortable ever) Wake Forest gear. And as our team has had some pretty exciting and successful seasons lately even Target is stepping up their Wake Forest apparel game. But it is a pretty safe bet, no matter the time of year no matter the occasion, at least one of us will be wearing Demon Deacon gear!