The Game

I find it curious how life seems to parallel itself with football in so many ways.  Sometimes I feel like I just got a first down, or even a perfect pass for a touchdown, and other times I am pretty sure I just got tackled by a 265lb. linebacker with a loss of yards on the 3rd down.  I’m sure we all have days like this, but lately I have had more than my share.  With pressures and struggles as a mom and wife, a teacher and friend, a sister and daughter.  I have certainly been knocked down, and fumbled a few plays.  I look to the football field and it gives me hope.  I know, it sounds crazy, but life is often like a fascinating game.

Many times people look at me and think mistakenly, “Wow, she  has it all together”.   Sometimes on my best days, I even look at myself and say that.  The reality is that I am very blessed, but I  if I don’t keep everything in balance things quickly become a wreck. Sometimes I lose focus, and I find myself in a mix of anxiety over things I can’t control, and deep sadness that eats at my soul.  I feel alone and misunderstood, whether that is truly the case or not.  We all go through this, I know.  It just seems that I have to fight a little harder than most against these feelings.  I am a highly sensitive person, as most creative people tend to be.

It gets intense this time of the year.  The playoffs have finally arrived.  We have completed all of our regular season games undefeated.  As the season progresses, the pressure starts to cook you.  Most people think that it’s easy to be married to a winning coach.  I have even heard people say lately that The Coach has it easy since he has so much talent to work with.  This kind of talk makes me cringe.  While the talent is present, hard work dominates the program at Shelby.  The Coach loves his job, but he also works extremely hard to be the best.  He and I are both this way.  We are people who believe for more.   We are both driven, even though we are driven in different ways.  We press on relentlessly.  We never stop growing, or stay satisfied with a mediocre situation.  The Coach is surrounded by like minded men who are gifted in coaching themselves, and work incredibly hard.  When someone tells me that The Coach has it easy, I want to correct them since I know that talent is a blessing, but hard work is paramount.

The pressure can be intense and exhausting.  I sit in the stands, and even though I have prayed, taken up the slack at home, and done my part for the week so The Coach can properly prepare for the game, I look on without the ability to secure the win.  I don’t get to talk with the team during half time.  This is something we coaches’ wives joke about frequently because frankly sometimes we would LOVE to have a word with the team at the half.  My hands are tied.  I sit and watch, at times in disbelief.  I have no control over what is happening on the field.  I can only know that I have played my part during the week to try to help the success of this team my husband loves.  Parents of athletes understand this.  You can’t control what happens on that field if your son drops the ball, makes or doesn’t make the kick, gets tackled, or runs the ball back for the touchdown.  I relive that each week of football season, every year.  My boy never graduates, he’s The Coach.

I try on every level to be the best person I can be, but I still feel the sting of judgement from people who think they know what my life with The Coach is like.  I try to take this lesson and realize that I have no idea what other people are facing in their daily lives either.  We all have our struggles.  We all face battles that no one, even our closest friends, know or understand.  This is where our compassion must force its way through.  I try to understand what other people are dealing with, but I am discovering that I don’t always do such a good job with that.  I suppose I struggle, just like everyone else with understanding on a deeper level.

When The Coach first became the head coach, things were not so pretty that first year, even the second year was a bit ugly.  People seem to forget that The Coach wasn’t always considered to have such an easy job.  Back then people were calling him Air Ware, and the screams during the game came from fans yelling “run the ball”, and harassing The Coach from the safety of the stands.  I gain strength from this memory.  I remember holding a baby and watching my two little boys wrestle on the sidelines during the game.  I certainly had my hands full back then.  Those trying times made us stronger.  They made us smarter.  They taught me to trust my gut even when everyone else might say otherwise.  Making hard decisions and pushing through the madness makes us strong.

At the end of the day I have done whatever I thought was right at the moment.  I know that The Coach is this way too.  We do things that are unconventional at times, and we are bold in many areas of life.  Living your best life doesn’t mean living a perfect life.  Don’t we all love to see a real, honest game down on the field where players work and struggle and play with all their hearts until that final buzzer sounds, and the clock is down to zero?  A game where fumbles are recovered and great plays are made, despite the mistakes and penalties?  The struggles we face make us more beautiful, not less.  The struggles we face make us interesting and intriguing, challenging and complex.  I love to watch a fierce game that makes me pray and shut my eyes for a bit because it is too intense for me to look.  I love a game that is full of surprises and unlikely heroes.  When you win that kind of game, it is more than extraordinary.  An easy win never makes a team better.  It never makes for a great story to be retold year after year.  An easy win in life never makes a person better.  The challenges are what make us amazing.  The comebacks are what make us great.   It’s all part of the game.

 

Friends and Football

Proverbs 18:24 The Message    
 Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family.

The first time I met the Devines we were in the receiving line at my father in law’s funeral.  As they were approaching The Coach turned to me and said how lucky we were to get David to come to Shelby.  I had heard about his talent, and intelligence as a coach.  The Coach admired him, and I could tell by his tone that he was excited to get to work with David.  It was such a difficult time for The Coach.  I was happy to see him with something positive to look forward to.  David was coming from Burns, and had been expected to be the next head coach in line when through a turn of interesting events he was overlooked, and a different coach was hired instead.  We got lucky, or in looking back it was cosmic to say the least, and the creator of the universe was at work doing things we could never have orchestrated on our own.

For seven seasons they were family to us.  There are those people who come into your life just when you need them.   That first season together was a season of healing and new opportunities for us all.  Kim and I had babies two months apart.  We took beach vacations every summer.  We grew very close over the years watching our children grow, and giving each other support when The Coaches were busy with their business on the field.  She understood me.   When you spend time with someone for weeks at a time, it can be maddening if you don’t get along with them.  I got along with Kim, and she could put up with me, which is saying something.  I am what you might call “quirky”.  I  have the mind of a creative person which can be flighty and reactive, and sometimes I tend to be a little feisty.   I admired her ability to do nearly anything, even clean chicken houses in 110 degrees in summer.  She is kind, funny, and genuine.  She may be one of the toughest women I have ever known, and for sure she made me a better person through our friendship.

We made great life memories together.  We celebrated victories, and prayed each other through hard times.  I believe the most profound relationships are not just built on conversations or similar opinions, they are built on experiences.  When you experience life and its everyday events with someone, you develop bonds of trust and levels of understanding that transcend the limits of the world.  You develop inside jokes where a moment can be brought back to mind with a simple word or phrase.  We  flowed like a river, and we didn’t have to struggle to get along, because it just happened.   This was the way we were.   Even when the two coaches would “have words”, they were like brothers and any hard feelings were soon forgotten.  They had a common admiration and respect for one another.   The Coaches are both smart, but in their own ways.  Lance is charismatic, and is a maverick of sorts on the playing field.  David is intensely strategic and methodical.  Their personalities and coaching styles complimented each other to create such a dynamic team that they pulled off 3 state championships in a row.

Last year after the 2015 State Championship we celebrated with friends and coaches at our home.  In our kitchen we talked to the Devines, and we knew at that time that Burns would probably offer David the head coaching position.  I remember him being incredibly humble, like he usually is, and I told him they would be crazy not to offer him the job.  We hugged him and Kim.  I think at that very moment I knew that our seasons together were ending.  I felt different after that night.  I emotionally protect myself at times by means of withdrawing.  I think I began to pull away, so it wouldn’t hurt so much when they inevitably had to go.

David was offered the job, and accepted the call to lead the Bulldogs.  He left by spring to go back to Burns.  We understood.  He had to go.  It was his  destiny.  He had to return home to rebuild, and lead his team to victory.  In the months that followed I didn’t talk to Kim very much.  I suppose that we knew it would be best since we would now be living separate lives with our husbands coaching for rival teams, and she would take on her new role as a head coach’s wife.  Coaching is so much more than just a job.  A great coach is a leader who is teaching people to believe in something bigger than themselves to achieve a common goal.  A great coach builds more than a team, they build a community. We knew that Coach Devine was supposed to do this for Burns.   Lance and I prayed for who would take his place.  There were such big shoes to fill.  Coach Hawn has stepped in nicely, bringing his own style and savvy, but the family is different now.

In preparing to go to the game this week, I felt very emotional.   The friends we had spent summer vacations, and almost every weekend with have been gone for half a year.  Even though I have tried to move past it, something has been missing.  A hole has been there that nothing else could fill.  Why does life have to change in these ways?  It must, if we want to grow.  Growing is an essential part of life, but it can be so very painful.   I didn’t let myself cry for so long, but I have been deeply sad because my friends had to move on.  Friday night wasn’t just a game.  It was a pivotal moment in time for The Coaches.  With the giant moon looming on the backdrop of the Burns field, it was orchestrated by a force beyond us.  It was more.  I hugged one of the dearest friends life has ever provided me with, after a game where our husbands had to coach against each other.  It was a place where I never wanted to be, but had to be.

The Devines are coming for dinner soon.  I can’t wait to catch up on the last six months to find out how their new lives have been.  Growing is so hard.  We used to grow together, and now we grow separately.  I can’t wait to see all of the amazing things they will do.  I want to be able to pull for them at every game they play, except the one they play against us.  I never want to see a friend lose.  It is so very hard.  Much harder than people can imagine or know.  I have often compared the last several months to a breakup.  We knew it was time to move on, but it hurts.  We want the very best for them, and want them to be successful because we love them like family, but it pains us to see them with another team.  They have another family now who needs them, but I pray that our friendship will never end even if now we are on different teams.

It’s Football Season, Have You Seen My Husband?

Last week when I was on my little “me-cation”, I came across a gift shop in Sylva where I found some cute brown cocktail napkins that say, “It’s football season, have you seen my husband?”  Initially I just had to laugh because it is so very true.  Of course I bought the napkins so I can continue to laugh, and wonder where the heck he is sometimes.  During football season I have a good idea of where I could find him if I had to.  He is at some football field somewhere.  The coach got home around 7am this morning from his trip to the Alabama game.  I haven’t seen him for more than 20 minutes at a stretch since Wednesday.

People often think that being the wife of a coach must be fun and somewhat exciting, and it can be.  It can also be extremely lonely and tiring.  I can’t tell you how many times a week that I hear, “Where’s Dad?” from my kids, or “Where’s Lance?” from friends I see around town, or even his own mother.   They should know the answer to this question by now, but I can remember when I too was like them.  I would prepare dinner and wait for The Coach to come home, and I would wait, and then I would wait a little more.  Then I would call him (back before texting) at the field house.  One of the other coaches would answer the phone.  I would finally get to talk to him, and I would discover that they were going to watch another hour of film before they headed home for the night.  I would then eat an angry meal alone with my dog.  Life was hard.  Has life changed since then?  Yes, but it has gotten more difficult, and The Coach works a lot more now than he used to.  It’s okay, since I have learned what you call coping skills.  Adaptation.

If you look up the word Adaptation, you will see that it means: a change or the process of change by which an organism or species becomes better suited to its environment in order to survive.  This is what I have had to learn to do as The Coach’s wife.  This is what all coaches’ wives must learn to do.  It is a process.  When I see a young coach get married, I know that it can go one of only a few ways.  The first possibility, is that the young couple will work through challenges together adapting and getting stronger as people and as a couple.  There will be massive knock down, drag outs, but they will survive.  The second path of possibility, the young coach will stop coaching.  Why?  Because it is freaking hard to be married to a person who loves a sport as much as they love you.  Most women understandably can’t take it.  Compromise won’t happen, and the coach will quit coaching.  Third, and this is the worst, the coach and his young wife don’t stay married.  I have only seen this a few times, although statistics say that the divorce rate for football coaches is between 60-70%.

How have The Coach and I survived?  I either win, or I learn.  That is who I am.  I never really lose, and I am happy with that.  The Coach is not that way.  He is a competitor by nature.  Many times I have had to learn hard lessons in our marriage.  One is that football will come first much of the time between mid July and the Super Bowl.  Another lesson I’ve learned is that if I want time with The Coach I must plan it, or it must involve a football game.  The Coach spends all his planning talents on coaching, so by the time he gets home he doesn’t have any planning abilities left.  If I want a date, or want him do a family related activity, I must plan it.  Most of the time this must involve football oriented activities such as, but not limited to: tailgating, lying on the couch watching football, grilling on the patio watching football, hanging out with friends and watching football, going to dinner in a restaurant with big TV’s and watching football, or attending a football game.

I mentally prepare myself to spend loads of time alone, or with the kids as a single parent.  Sure, that sounds harsh, but the reality is that I have had to learn exactly who I am as a person.  I’ve developed the independence of a single mom (I have ENORMOUS admiration for single parents who take care of everything on their own), but I have the privilege of a part-time partnership where I can cherish the moments we do get as a couple or as a family.  I have a gargantuan “alone muscle” built from all my training being married to The Coach, but  I also have incredible friends, lots of them coaches’ wives, who are supportive, and independent minded as well.

For years, and sometimes still, people will get a little question behind their eyes when they see me in public alone.  I go to parties alone, I grocery shop alone, I workout alone, and I even take vacations alone sometimes.  “Where is The Coach? ” people will ask.  I explain that he is at a football game, or maybe he’s talking with recruiters, perhaps he is watching film, or he may be in a meeting.  He could be meeting with parents, taking a player on a college visit, painting the field, or mowing a field.  He is possibly on the phone with another head coach,  and he might just be in the bed sleeping because he drove all night to get home to me after a big game in Alabama.  I’ve learned that if The Coach shows up, or gets to be around for a bit, I count that in the plus column.  I don’t try to keep up with all the time he spends on football anymore.  He’s happy, and doing what he loves.  As his wife I think I should be happy about that.  We have wonderful times when we are together, but I don’t hand him my happiness as a weight to carry.  I carry it for myself.  It took me a long time to learn that lesson, but I have, so don’t be concerned if you see me around without The Coach.  I’ve adapted, but I may ask you if you’ve seen The Coach.

 

 

Lessons From Football

A quote by Norman Cousins stood out to me this week.  “Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.”

Life can be so wearying at times.  This week has been especially hard for our little community.  There has been a heaviness in the air that makes me fidget, and gives me sleepless hours of turning and tossing in the middle of the night.  It has felt like having lead in your shoes, and an anvil sitting smack in the middle of your soul.

How do you take a loss and make it a win?  There are so many lessons I have learned from football over the years.  Lessons that may not be obvious on the surface, but are there when you peel back the layers of a  game more complicated than it appears to be.  I have come to love this game in a way that I never thought possible.  It is a metaphor for life.

This week we experienced a loss in our community.  I’m not just talking about the loss of a very beloved officer for the Shelby Police Department.  I am also talking about the loss of a father, a husband, a friend of many, and a community member.  And….I am also talking about the loss of another father to children who also live in our community.  A young man who has become the victim of his choices.  Can we really look at one without looking at the other?  In the eyes of God, they are equally important.  There are two men who were lost to us.  The children of these men are truly the ones who bear the brunt of this loss.

On Tuesday afternoon I took my little girl in her pink fluttery ballet costume down the street from where she takes her dance lessons.  We were busy counting the blue ribbons around the court square and down the block when we found ourselves looking at the car that was covered in flowers and surrounded by candles.  I explained to the little girl what was going on.  We had been praying for him and his family after we heard the news on Saturday.  “My heart just hurts Mommy,” she said with her tiny voice crackling under the weight of her tears.  She’s like me in that way, but The Coach can be like that too.  It was so hard to hold her little hand and know that my little girl will be lifted into the air by her daddy after Friday night’s game, but Officer Brackeen’s little girl will never be lifted into the air by her daddy again.  At least not in this life.  I choked on tears, and hid behind my sunglasses as we walked around the car looking at all the gifts and flowers that lay on the black and white vehicle that a hero once drove.  It was important for her to see it.

In football whenever you have a loss things can go one of two ways.  Players can start blaming each other and pointing fingers.   The players turn against each other, fight in the locker room, and never recover the team mentality that it takes to win, or … the team rallies together.  They choose to learn from their loss.  They decide not to quit or stay defeated.  They look at the mistakes that were made, and figure out how to get stronger as a team.  The coaches encourage the players and build them up, or occasionally take some down a notch and help them get in touch with reality.  The players don’t let themselves get down mentally, they put forth more effort the following week.  They allow the loss to fuel their desire to be better and stronger.  Sometimes changes must be made.  They study film and make a new plan of action.  Never does the positive attitude of a winning team disappear for very long.  They believe they are winners above everything else.  Believing is more than half the battle.  How will they win again?  By believing, by working to find a middle ground, and by coming together as a team.  Blaming others, spiteful words, fights and constant judgement never create a winning team.  Players may not agree, but they work it out.  They find ways to play together even if they disagree.

In our little community we have had a great loss.  What will we do now?  I have heard words of hate this week, but I have especially heard words of hope.  Loss is tough.  We will overcome our loss with teamwork.  We have to get past our differences in thoughts and opinions right now. Sometimes we have to put the team before ourselves.   If you have ever played a sport, you know this to be true.  Yes, perhaps one side is right and the other is wrong, but a quote I began using with myself, as well as my children is, “It’s more important to be kind than it is to be right” (Anne Lamott).  This is a time when it’s more important to be kind.  I have heard lots of talk about forgiveness this week.  Forgiveness is supernatural for sure, but what can we do in our daily walk to make this community better, and to create healing?  There are so many questions.  There are some who are angry.  There is a division.  What do we do?  We take a lesson from football.  We work as a team.  We play as a team.  We win as a team.  #Shelbystrong.

Some Things Trump Football

Tonight instead of sneaking in late to the game, I’m home with the little girl.  She has a “Crick” in her neck.  I thought this was creative southern slang, but as it turns out I looked it up and it is a real word.  It just sounds very back-woods when I say it.  There have been many crying spells today, and the little girl has been walking like a statue.  Her grandmother ( aka Mennen) took care of her while I was at school, but now at game time the little one still isn’t feeling well.  I know she is truly in pain since the girl loves school, and truly enjoys a good football game.  She is her father’s child.  She relaxes in The Coach’s favorite chair with an icepack on her neck, and watches cheesy shows on the Disney Channel.

The Coach is understanding.  No, I won’t make it to the game.  Fortunately we are on kid number 3.  The Coach and I have been through many contagious sicknesses and minor mishaps in the 14 years that we have been parents.  The oldest one nearly cut off his own finger while playing a vigorous game of hide and seek in the locker room when he was eight.  He had to be taken to the emergency room that night.

photo-1

The Little Girl

The younger boy has managed to have minimal trauma other than nose bleeds, and bad colds.  He once sprayed himself with citrus air freshener which burned his skin.  He also overdosed on children’s Benadryl one Sunday morning before we had nursery duty at church.  I had to call Poison Control.  That was not one of our more stellar moments as parents.

My favorite memory of offspring affliction was when The Coach brought the boys back from an away game, and bought them late night donut milkshakes, knowing that the little girl and I were already at home with a raging stomach virus.  In the middle of the night donut milkshake was sprayed- by means of projectile vomit- on curtains, rugs and bed spreads.  Lesson learned!

I’m okay to be home caring for my sweet girl.  I am an introvert.  This means that I am okay with averting the crowd for tonight.  I’m sad that I can’t be there to see the success of The Coach and his team, but sometimes I can use some downtime away from the football scene.  Even though I feel terrible for the little girl, I use this quiet time to spend with her knowing she won’t be this little for much longer, and to catch my breath from the busyness and demands of the week.

It’s super hard for me at times to live in The Coach’s world.  He ignites and thrives from the breathing and presence of thousands of people watching him do his job each week.  I however, would love to slink into the shadows.  I’m a creative, passionate and sensitive soul, and that’s who I am.  The Coach is extroverted and loves social situations, large crowds of people, and massive amounts of music and noise, and that’s who he is.  He thrives in chaos.  *Saturday he heads to Bristol for The Battle of Bristol….the world’s largest college football game.  I will not be joining him for the madness.

The Coach has helped me to be more warm and  approachable,  while I have helped him to be more reflective and contemplative… or at least I like to think I have.  What I have found is that if I am going to be The Coach’s wife, I must allow myself to be who I am. The Coach is great at being “On”  all the time.  I am not.  If my light is going to shine, I need some time in the dark to recharge.

It’s okay that I’m not at the game, we are winning by quite a lot.  Don’t get me wrong,  I feel guilty for not being there for The Coach.  Tonight I miss the cheers from the crowd, the play calls from the sidelines, the thousands of insects flocking to the stadium lights.  I miss seeing the kids who play ball on the field and run with reckless abandon after the game while dreaming of the day when they will run the touchdown or make the tackle, and I especially miss the other coaches’ wives who embrace me and my weirdness.  Football season has an air to it that I adore, but the things I enjoy about football are not always the things other people even notice.

The Coach is getting to do what he loves regardless of whether I am there or not.  That’s the way it should be.  He calls during half time to check on his little girl.  I tell him she’s feeling a bit better, and wish him good luck as we end our conversation and he heads back onto the field.  It’s good to be there for each other in relationships and in a family.  We can’t be so consumed with life’s expectations  that  we don’t stop to take a look at who may really need us, or what the real priority for the moment may be.  I hope that someday when my kids grow up and have their own families they will recount that I wasn’t at every game, but I was there for the important moments when they needed me.  I may have missed a game or two, but sometimes I was taking care of someone, maybe that someone was one of them, or perhaps that someone was me.

Life After A Big Win

Most people who aren’t “football people” don’t really understand what life is like at my house.  I’m sure they imagine us sitting around after a big win soaking up all of the praise from the community and basking in the after glow of the recent accomplishment.  Feeling proud while laughing and talking over a big breakfast, and looking at pictures of our team on the front page of The Shelby Star (that’s our local paper).  The reality of a Saturday after a big win goes something like this…….

I wake up first.  I’m the mom and the wife, so I always wake up first unless I’m sick.  I make a HUGE pot of coffee.  Ironically, I’m the only one in the house who drinks coffee. The Coach prefers Diet Sundrop with loads of ice for him to crunch on.  But The Coach is still in the bed, so I don’t make him a Diet Sundrop.  I let out dogs and feed cats, and start a load of laundry.  I drink about 3 cups of coffee, and say some prayers since this is one of the only quiet times that I will have today.  The Coach and the kids usually stagger down in search of some food within the next hour or so.  Sometimes I have cooked breakfast, and sometimes there’s a bowl of cereal.  There’s plenty of morning breath and bad hair going on, so I head to the gym or the farmer’s market.  The Coach immediately checks his phone since he’s had about 20 text messages during the late night and early morning hours from parents, players, other coaches and members of our community.  He returns some messages and phone calls, then jumps in his truck to head to the high school while he does a radio interview around 9 over the phone with the local radio station.  He talks throughout the morning with other friends who are head coaches at various schools around the state.  I still haven’t talked with The Coach.  If I have, it has been a brief mishmashed conversation about the previous night’s game, while having my two sons talk over the top of me asking quick questions of their dad and reliving some of the more interesting plays from the game.

The Coach usually stays at the high school for a couple hours chatting in person or by phone with interested parties while checking on everything football and field related, and possibly mowing the practice field.  Meanwhile I’m back at home doing about 27 loads of laundry from the previous week that we neglected to do.  I’m scraping dried food from the kitchen countertops, sweeping up a combination of field grass and dog hair, scrubbing a few toilets, watering plants that are on their last leaf, making a grocery list, picking up random socks that have been left around the house, (we have a serious sock problem) and yelling at the kids to clean their rooms and get off their phones.  If you have ever seen Darren Knight’s Southern Mama on Youtube, you know what I’m talking about here!  If you haven’t, you should Google it now in order to develop a full understanding.  While it is a slight exaggeration, I will admit that even though I attempt to be a refined and educated southern lady, that side of me does come out occasionally. *Disclaimer-My mother once killed a skunk with a shovel, one of my great grandfathers ran moonshine, and as a child I lived on a dirt road.

The Coach rolls in around lunch time.  He’s handsome with a fresh hair cut.  He and I finally talk for a minute or two about what we want to do for dinner that night.  He declares which college games he will be watching that day, and either helps fold clothes or takes a nap.  He requires a nap since he was up until 2am recounting the game with the coaching staff, and cleaning up the field house…sort of.  He usually asks me some questions about the game.  This is fun for him since he sees what time I might have arrived at  the game.  I usually come in late, and try to slide in like a Ninja.  I don’t like people asking me unanswerable questions before the game like:  Are we going to win tonight?  I think sometimes people think I’m like a Magic 8 Ball when it comes to Shelby football.

We spend the rest of the afternoon in a mix of naps and laundry and college football games on every t.v. in the house.  I head to the grocery store and return with plenty of cold beverages and some kind of meat (if we didn’t already get it that morning at the farmer’s market or our local meat market) and The Coach has the grill ready for action.  He LOVES to grill.  He carefully puts some type of marinade or dry rub all over the meat, and we have drinks on the back porch while smoke billows out the top of the cooker and blows directly into our sweet neighbor’s yard.  She’s always trying to have a relaxing time on her screened porch, and I hate this for her because The Coach has the game on mute with Apple Radio playing Chris Stapleton in outdoor concert fashion.

We sit and admire the possibilities of our yard, and I watch the chimney sweeps flying overhead.  We might chat a little about the game from the night before, but we don’t focus on it or the win.  We talk more about the people who are involved.  We talk about the coaching staff and what a great job they did, and the things that are going on in their lives.  We love them.  We talk about the players.  The colleges that may be pursuing some, and  the struggles others are facing in their young lives that we can hardly imagine.  We love them.  We talk about our family and our parents and funny things the kids did.  We talk about our friends, and how they might drop by later or perhaps some fun we have planned with them later in the month.  As day makes its beautiful change into night we discuss our bat problem, and watch them greet the darkness as they flutter out of our attic in hopes that they eat all the menacing mosquitoes who attempt to make a meal of us as we sit on our back patio.  We laugh and talk, and sometimes it’s about football.  But mostly, it’s just about life and how our lives are interwoven with this whole football thing.  We talk about how we can be better coaches, parents and people.  Life with The Coach is busy.  The win is good, but it’s not what’s most important.  By this time there’s plenty of talk about next Friday night’s game.

Holy Footballs Coach!

Never did I  think I would end up married to a high school football coach.  I’ve always been very “in my own head” and creative, not at all competitive and only slightly (and I mean marginally) athletic at best.  Some people call me artsy.  I grew up playing few sports and spending most of my time imagining and pretending.  I love to paint, write, and tell stories.  Being married to The Coach is an enigma to me, and many of our friends and folks we meet.

How did I end up in this entertaining world of serious high school football?  In my earlier life, I carefully plotted how things would turn out; what I would do and who I would develop into, but God had very different plans for me.  I envisioned myself becoming a famous writer or painter, married to another creative type traveling the world, climbing the highest mountains and walking with the Dalai Lama.  I instead fell in love with a burly bear of a man who loves coaching football like it is pure lifeblood to him.  Of course, he loves me more than he loves football…..I question this, especially during football season.

The Coach works tirelessly (and I mean all the freakin time) to make his program the best high school football program in the state of North Carolina.   He LOVES his job.  He was born to be a coach.  I found out quickly about his dream to become a head coach on our first date.  This focused passion is one reason I fell in love with him.  His certain goal appealed to me since I was, and still am most of the time, pretty flighty and uncertain about exactly where I’m headed.  I live open to the possibilities of life.  The Coach understands the goal and makes adjustments from year to year with his team.  He doesn’t just want his players to win, although that tends to be a very good thing when it happens.  He and his coaching staff work relentlessly (you have to be relentless to be successful with high school football) to build strong young men who become people of character with goals, and love in their hearts.  At least that’s what they work for.  Winning 3 state championships in a row is a nice bonus…..we are currently working toward number 4!

When we began this journey together over 17 years ago, I never dreamed we would be the people we are today.  Life has been tumultuous at times, as great lives usually are, but we have a wonderful support system, and an enlarged faith in God.  I’m not going to be all “preachy” in this little blog because I am not any kind of perfect.  I’m just working my way through this little trip as The Coach’s wife.  Most days I’m trying to keep my head above the water line.  I’m not going to pretend this life is easy.  In fact, I’m going to share just how hard it truly is at times.  There are no easy roads to victory-whether it’s football, marriage, family,  career or personal goals.  Hard work, dedication, and the ability to constantly reevaluate where you stand and where you are headed are essential.  My trek with The Coach has taught me more about myself than I  thought I needed to know.  The strength I have had to develop as his wife is greater than any strength I ever wanted for myself, and it continues to grow.

Football is Love

Welcome to my blog about my football life with The Coach.  The Coach is my husband, Lance.  I married him thinking I could make him change some of his football-loving ways, but how dare I try.  Instead, football has changed me.  Football and I have had a love and hate relationship for the past 18 years.  My husband’s main goal in life when I first met him was to become a head football coach.  He achieved his dream, with lots of love and support from me, our very wonderful parents, our kids,  a few incredible head coaches who taught him everything they knew, and a wonderful coaching staff who has been a second family to us.   We live and teach school in the community where my husband grew up and where he now acts as Athletic Director and Head Football Coach for the Shelby Golden Lions.  Life isn’t always easy living in a small southern town where everyone knows your husband, but it’s good.  I want to share the things we’ve learned as a couple and family, but especially the lessons I’ve learned living with The Coach.