*If you’re a young unmarried coach with no kids, keep walkin’.
It’s that time of year. Most youth and high school championship seasons have ended and the college season is reaching its crescendo. Coaches across the country are breathing a sigh of relief. It might be a happy or sad sigh depending on how well they did in reaching their goals. I want to talk about the unseen or under appreciated part of the last few months: the coaches’ family.
A good coach not only spends time coaching at practice but they spend time preparing for practice, coaching at competitions and adjusting practice as the season develops. They also spend unseen hours talking one on one with wrestlers and spending plenty of time with satisfied and unsatisfied parents that need to be heard. Even with the best of intentions I never leave the gym right after practice or a match: wrestlers, parents, other coaches or school officials intercept me for various reasons. So scheduled time away becomes unscheduled lateness time and time again. When I finally get home my spouse becomes a sounding board and valuable advisor taking even more time from our regular relationship. She’s the best.
Who picks up the slack at the coaches house? The spouse! If there isn’t support on the home front a good coach’s effectiveness diminishes, as does the length of their coaching tenor.
The spouse doesn’t experience many of the emotional rewards that a coach receives like a wrestler improving, a big individual or team win or even the small wins. They often have to socialize in a large club as they inherit a big wrestling family. Let’s be honest; more than a couple of people won’t like the coach and think that they could do it better but the spouse is still there trying to build relationships. A couple of years ago my wife and daughter were sitting in the bleachers while a parent cursed me out in front of a couple dozen parents and kids. She became an extension of the coaching staff in that moment and set the parent straight in the politest of ways. She is unwittingly responsible for setting a tone for behavioral expectations, language (especially in front of other young kids) and how to channel their displeasure with me (actually their son’s behavior) and where to talk with the coach afterward.
The sacrifice of time has been the biggest issue for me personally. My wife and daughter get less of me and less time in general while they sit in smelly gyms all day. My wife and I try to reconfigure our schedules to find moments to stay connected during the season. She understands and has grown to love the sport. I’d say that she knows more about wrestling than most fans. I’m pretty proud of that – it takes everyone in the family supporting each other as the kids’ sports schedules become more and more demanding. And it’s kind of nice to have her next to me cheering while the NCAAs go on for a few days…
I just want to say thank you to my wife of 19 years and to all the coaches’ wives out there.