The Times, They Are A’Changin’!!

So if you’ve followed this blog at all (and you probably haven’t) I’ve written about change and transition A LOT. It’s a huge part of the whole coaching lifestyle. Well, that call finally came for us. But not in any way close to how I imagined it coming. A couple of months ago, in the midst of what I can describe only as smack dab in the middle of the darkest period in my adult life, I was shuttling our 2 girls to a gymnastics meet 5 hours away, solo. I was solo because our family had suffered the unimaginable loss of my husband’s 27 year old cousin, suddenly and without much warning. While we were reeling, the competitive gymnastics season trucked on and so did we. He stayed behind for the service and visitation and the girls and I tearfully and reluctantly left town.

I wasn’t 2 hours away when he called with news that we had been waiting for….we had a new opportunity. And not a coaching opportunity either. Something that would keep him not only in the same state, but the same town! All the time! And he wouldn’t have to travel, save for a weekend here, a week or so there, maybe 3 times a year. No more late nights at the office, no more juggling soccer and gymnastics with recruiting trips, pregame meals and last minute emergencies at the field. No more missing entire weekends of activities because the team is in another country.

No more tailgating…no more wives outings…no more sisterhood…no more bear hugs from linemen who are dripping in sweat and bleeding from some unseen gash in their heads but don’t feel a thing…no more hearing, “Hi mama!” from 80 boys on a daily basis…with one decision, everything we’ve ever known as a family was turned on it’s head. At first I wanted so badly to tell him to say no. We made it through this long, we can make it work again. Then I thought of the 6 children under the age of 13 whose fathers or mothers I have buried in the last 6 months and I instantly knew what we had to do. So The Decision was made, he accepted, we hung up the clipboard and whistle and we’re in the mad dash of moving.

I’ve written a ton of blogs about purging, organizing, getting your ish in check for a move. Guess what? I didn’t listen to a damn thing I wrote. Not. A. Thing. 7 trips to the dump, countless garbage bags and many, MANY late nights later, my house is getting there. We have a showing on Thursday and don’t EVEN get me started about how much THAT stresses me out, so I’m down to crunch time. Laundry has been done, down to the last sock, the only rooms I have left that need some serious work are the kitchen and my youngest daughter’s room. Both of which are small and pretty easy. Then I just need to run a quick vacuum and broom over things and breathe. Riiiiight.

In the meantime, we have nowhere to live in our new town (which is 400 miles and 6 hours away), I don’t have a job yet and my husband leaves in exactly 13 days. No big. I always told myself our first move was going to be so exciting and an adventure and the best times in our lives. HA! Have I MET me?! Have I seen how insane I get when things are out of my control? I’m funny.

The last wrinkle of all of this is the good byes. Last night I saw the staff and wives for the first time since we made The Decision. It was easier than I thought it would be, but coaches wives are a special group. We (yes, I still consider myself a coaches wife even though technically I’m not one anymore) are used to transition and moves. We know goodbye is inevitable and it’s part of the game. So there were hugs and “I’ll miss you’s” and “we’ll have dinner before you go!” This week I’m meeting with another group of ladies who I’ve grown close to over the years and next week I put on my last seminar here.

While the good byes are hard, I’m so excited for the next chapter. Being able to have time as a family has been an amazing experience and while I wouldn’t trade the last 6 years of our lives for anything on this Earth, I can’t wait to go to a college game this fall, as a family. ❤

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Family Politics and Football

 

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Most coaching families get a pass on family politics on account of they don’t live near family. Don’t get me wrong, there are PLENTY of politics within the team family and the coaching family, but if you’ve ever navigated family politics, those are the absolute worst. While the Coach and I are SO blessed to be able to coach in our hometown, it has it’s occasional downsides. One of them is the proximity to family drama.

Recently, we had a family member who had a health crisis. A fairly severe one at that, but they were moved to a much better medical facility several hours away and had wonderful doctors. This person also has a spouse, several adult children and a teenager at home. The spouse, who is my sibling, was understandably worried and upset during this ordeal. They have some other job change things and some family issues of their own in this mess, so the stress levels were quite high. Last week, my in-law had surgery and our niece gave birth to a little boy. I was texting my sibling getting updates on how the surgery was going and mentioned the latest news I had on the baby. BAM. Never heard from them again. Now my updates are coming from Facebook, texts and calls are going unanswered and my dad hasn’t even heard from them. Today, there was a Facebook post letting everyone know they’re home and that this experience has shown them “who their true friends and family members are.” Well then.

Here is where my snarky ecard comes in. In a 1:30 am phone call from my sibling, it was suggested but not outright asked that I should travel to where they live, about 7 hours away, and care for the house, help get it ready to sell and make sure the teenager got to school. When I didn’t take the bait, things got testy. I finally explained that I can’t just pack up, leave for 2 weeks and expect that things will be normal in my world. My husband works, no joke here, over 100 hours a week. He goes in for practice twice a week at 5:00 am and most nights, only comes home long enough to see our girls off to bed before he goes back to finalize the next day’s practice scripts. How is he supposed to manage that, get our children off to school, soccer, gymnastics and all the other things that occur during a day? It’s simply not fair and completely unreasonable to ask him to shoulder that load. Likewise, I couldn’t take my children out of school for 2 weeks, have them fall behind and miss their activities. And then there’s the tiny matter of my job and the fact that my boss and his wife are due any second with their first child. Couple my perceived uncaring attitude about their situation and the faux pas of updating the baby news last week, and I’m sure that’s why nobody has heard from them, save for a few Facebook updates. I could go on and on about why this frustrates me, but I think you get the hint. I hope you can also pick up the sarcasm in some of this. 😉

So, friends, if you find yourself in the family drama situation, take a deep breath. Understand that most people, even family, don’t/can’t understand what we do week in and week out. Don’t take it personally if they get offended because girls’ weekends and fall weddings take a backseat to tailgates and soccer games. It’s part of life. Prioritizing family events (even if it’s not blood family) over the other stuff doesn’t make you a bad friend, it makes you a good wife and parent. And, at the end of the day, you can only do so much before you’re a raving crazy lady who is so stressed and overwhelmed that you give yourself a breakdown. Take it from me, that is NOT a fun place to be! This weekend, take a minute, smell the fall air, take walk, kick around some leaves and just enjoy what God has given you. Have a blessed weekend, all!!

PS, that last paragraph was as much a pep talk for me as it was for y’all! 😉

It’s Baaaaaaccccck!

Happy College Football season everyone!!!

Wow, last night was incredible! College football on all night long, tons of story lines and what a thrill to see someone we used to coach with on a big time, SEC sideline!! I’m so proud of he and his family for their dedication!! I still get goosebumps thinking of our first glimpse of him, staring studiously at a play sheet, headset perched atop his perfectly gelled hair and us scrambling like maniacs for the remote to pause and rewind, just to make sure we were seeing who we thought we were seeing. Maybe that will be us some day, our friends diving for remotes, sending texts that they know we won’t see for hours, calling other friends and saying, “Did you see that?! ESPN, he’s on ESP FREAKING N!” At least that’s how the conversation went in our house last night! 😉 

Although my coach doesn’t kick off for another week (this will be the longest week EVER), there’s another tradition starting in our house tonight; Friday Night Date Night. My coach is the local recruiting coordinator so that means while other coaches are putting the finishing touches on game plans, curling up to watch movies with their families, making their own recruiting calls or enjoying a much deserved night out, we are driving to local games. Some of them are easy to get to since our college rents the field out to the two local high schools, and others are quite the drive. Tonight we’re staying close; only to the next town over. Some nights we drive an hour or more to see 9 man football (yes, it exists!). Truth be told, those are the best games. Most of those kids will never play beyond high school so they leave it all on the field, every down, every game. The entire town turns out for the games as do most of the visiting teams’ town. Sometimes even the opposing sheriff stops by, which always prompts someone to joke about robbing the local bar, liquor store, etc., which is usually met with nothing but laughs because everyone knows that nobody is left in town anyway. Programs are almost always free, candy is still $.25, everybody says hello to you and word spreads fast that a college coach is somewhere in the crowd. We’re not hard to spot. We’re the only people the entire town doesn’t already know and we’re usually dressed in something from our college. By the time we make it to the sidelines, our daughters have already made new friends and are off playing somewhere in a town I don’t live in with people I’ve never met, yet I have fewer reservations about that than I do letting them walk to the school in our neighborhood alone on a Saturday afternoon. 

My coach always makes it a point to go talk to the coaches from both teams after the game, regardless of whether or not he plans to recruit any of their kids. He wants them to at least know he was there and say hello. The players are usually heading to the bus or locker room (or walking back to the high school, depending on which town we’re in) but they seem to walk a little slower when they see my husband coming in that college visor and jacket. It’s not just a PR move, either. Some of the best kids on our team historically have come from small towns that nobody has ever heard of. That was before we were an NCAA school, before the coaching staff knew what a JUCO transfer meant and before our school was internationally known as a topflight engineering school. To say things have changed is an understatement. But you cannot forget your roots. There is talent everywhere.

My girlfriends all laugh at me when I tell them what my date night consists of. Usually a concession stand hot dog, or hot chocolate depending on how cold it gets, a small town diner for dinner if we get lucky and arrive before the game. If we don’t get there early enough you would be surprised how many gas stations in the middle of nowhere have amazing sandwiches after everything is closed! What they don’t see is the time our family gets in the car. The memories my girls are forming that very few kids in the world will be able to say they have, the conversations that happen on the way to and from the games. Some weeks, it’s the only uninterrupted time we get as a family. We catch up on our weeks, fill each other in on the things we’ve all missed or sometimes we just tell silly stories and jokes and enjoy each other. No television, no social media, just family time. It’s time I know I won’t always have and it’s time I know is far too precious. So tonight, I will enjoy whatever crazy dinner I get, I’ll watch with great intensity the young men playing before me whom I have never met and I will settle in to the comfortable Friday Night Date Night routine that I’ve missed.

Have a safe and happy Labor Day weekend, everyone! Be blessed!

Losing. In Real Life.

Sports is an AMAZING distraction. For a lot of people it’s a few hours in a week where you can kick back, relax, spend time with friends and family and cheer on your teams or root against your rivals. It takes you away from the pressure and stress of everyday life, work, family things, etc. But sometimes things happen that nothing can fix. No distraction is enough to recharge the batteries, give you new perspective or relax you.

2 weeks ago, my Thursday started out very normally. I had played rec league softball the night before, chatted with my teammates and some of our spouses. Specifically, I play with 2 ladies whom I have known a good number of years. One of their husbands was there and we had a fun chat about camping, being adults, reminiscing about our younger years, just talking. We had all gone our separate ways and the next day, we all went about our business. At about 8:45 am, I got a call that would rock me to my core and literally change my life. My beautiful friend’s 31 year old husband was gone. He had gone to bed and never woken up. I was stunned. Initially, I didn’t believe it. I couldn’t, I had JUST seen this man! He was fine! 31 year olds don’t just not wake up. It HAD to be a mistake. As the day wore on and the reality of things sunk in, I sat at my desk and thought. I cried. I prayed. I called my husband and did all 3. As more details emerged, it was obvious that my friend was in a very bad place. Her husband had been their financial manager of their home and their finances were a mess. Their life insurance had just lapsed, she had nothing in savings and she was now a single mother to 4 children, 1 of whom is a newborn. Worse yet, she was a stay at home mother which meant their income and insurance had gone away with the death of her husband. A group of us immediately rallied around her, setting up a fundraising website, organizing a meal train, child care, yard work and housecleaning, whatever she needed. As word spread of the tragedy, support began to pour in for she and her children. It was overwhelming to see how people we had grown up with, worked with, worshiped with banded together with perfect strangers, friends of friends, co-workers of friends and friends of co-workers of friends to pick them up when they were down. We buried that amazing man on a warm July day in a church full to standing room only. He was so very loved. He is STILL so very loved.

In an instant, a family is forever changed. But it goes deeper than that. Many of us have gone and purchased life insurance policies, my husband and I are taking a VERY hard look at our own finances and there is a sense of closeness among my friends that I’ve never felt before. I had an opportunity a midst all of this to work on some football stuff for the upcoming season and it was so nice to get away from the sadness and the stress. And then I felt guilty because I CAN escape. My friend and her kids will never escape. This is their new reality. So I’ve promised to be there for them however I can. It’s all I can do…I can’t bring their husband and father back and God knows I would if I could. This is one thing that sports can’t heal. But it can bring some sense of normalcy back, if even for a short time.

Here is what I would ask, dear readers: Tonight, before bed, hug your spouse/partner/significant other. Kiss them, tell them you love them. Spend an extra couple of minutes with them. And pray for my friend and her children. Thank you, all.

What You’re Worth

Monday: Gymnastics; Tuesday: Soccer; Wednesday: Gymnastics; Thursday: Soccer; Friday: Family Night; Saturday: Football; Friday: Flag football. Look familiar? I’m sure that lineup looks like many of yours during this time of the year. Some, if not most of us, also work a full time job, plus we have to squeeze in dishes, laundry, cleaning, friends, family and date night in that time. It’s exhausting. It’s doubly exhausting when your husband is gone 120 hours a week. Now, I’m not complaining or whining. Far from it. I have several single mom friends (I was one myself not so long ago) and I have several military spouses. I am in NO WAY comparing my life to theirs. At all.

The point to this post is when you see a schedule like that, it can be daunting. When you throw in a demanding job and subtract your spouse for a significant period of time every week, it’s even worse. It can be draining both emotionally and physically. Since camp started this year, I have been struggling in my personal and professional life. I was sick the entire first week of camp, my dad had a heart attack, my plan for after school care didn’t pan out like it did in my mind, my work clients have been dealing with their own crises, which ultimately end up as my crises and things have just not gone my way recently. Nothing major, but it just seemed like they kept piling up week after week. Which is why last week was so spectacular.

It wasn’t until Thursday that the massive turnaround happened. I work as a legal assistant and many of our clients have little else to do except for worry about their case and call me for updates. Which is fine by me, part of my job is to be a shoulder to cry on and frankly, I rather enjoy it. However, it’s been taxing lately. Things haven’t been moving particularly fast on a few files and people are getting antsy and they’re calling me to let me know their displeasure. At any rate, I was doing some routine follow up work on file late last week and I called a client to update her. She is in a particularly difficult situation involving a tenant and she’s been quite distraught over it. As I was updating her, I could almost feel the weight lifting off her shoulders. When I got done with my update, she could not contain her excitement for how her case is going. She thanked me about a dozen times for being so nice, for believing in her, for just being there for her. It nearly brought tears to my eyes and still does re-living that call. It felt amazing to know what a difference I had made for this person.

Friday was a mediation day, which can be a very emotional experience for clients. Just after lunch, I received a call from the client whose case we were mediating. She was thrilled because her case had finally settled! She was tearfully thanking me and I could hear the joy in her voice. She told me she had even done a “happy dance” after she had left.

It’s those phone calls that make all the hours of pouring over medical records, police reports, documents, internet research and years and years of background information worth it. Those calls don’t normally come in such rapid succession but man, did I ever need them to last week! It refreshed my attitude and gave me a new energy!

I know this blog is about football…but sometimes life gets in the way of our hobbies and this was definitely a breath of fresh air for me! I know there are others who are struggling right now. My advice is to keep the faith, keep working and keep doing what you do. Stop and relax when you can. When that crazy schedule makes you want to scream, remember that you are a rockstar and you CAN do it! Each of us was put on this Earth because we possess a talent. Find it, harness it and do it. Happy Monday everyone and be blessed!!

Reality Check

I got a nice gut punch this morning. By way of background, a former player who we had asked to our home for Thanksgiving dinner last year when he couldn’t go home and had nowhere to go, who had been a very positive influence in my children’s lives, decided not to come back for this season and school year. Now, I have no idea why he made this decision. I’ve wondered, sure. When we saw him last May he was excited to come back and finish what the team had started. Over the weekend, a mutual friend of ours on Facebook had commented on a post he had made. Curious, I clicked on it. What I saw made me almost sick.

The post that our mutual friend had commented on was a bit of a rant mixed with some nostalgia about not being able to play on Saturdays and opining that others were taking advantage of his hard work and blood, sweat and tears to make it happen. Following that were comments from friends lending support. It was toward the end of the comments that he had chimed in with anecdotes about how “unprofessional” the coaching staff was and how “unfair” the program here had been to him. I was immediately upset. Yes, the program was overhauled last year but he was a part of that overhaul. And yes, some players did not play as much as before, but that’s what happens when a new staff comes in.

Now, I know that I am overprotective of my husband’s job. He works hundreds of hours a week, sees his family as much as possible and works his tail off. The same goes for the other coaches on the staff. Of all the staffs we have been on, this is by far the best we’ve had. The family aspect is very close, both within the staff and on the team. Parents have told me they appreciate the family feel and players have made it clear in exit interviews, recruiting trips, etc. that they feel the family aspect of the team is one of the main reasons they play here. Which I think is why that posting caught me so off guard. Especially considering this young man had fit the mold so well. We truly had embraced him as part of our family and seeing him say those hurtful things for the world to see stung. It stung more than it should have and much more than I had expected it to.

Now that I’ve had some time to digest and step away from it, I know there are 2 sides to this. I have no doubt he felt that something had happened that was not fair. I have no doubt that whatever it was probably wasn’t as bad as he perceived. That’s human nature; we blow things out of proportion that in reality aren’t a huge problem. I also have no doubt that better communication on both sides probably could have resolved the issue. It’s too late for all of that now. Regardless of his comments, I will always consider him part of “the family”. I’ve had hundreds of honorary sons over the years and he will always be one of them. I will continue to cheer him on in life and in football. I don’t know the story nor will I probably ever know and that’s okay. It really is.

What this moment taught me more than anything is this: Open communication. Always. Talking out your problems is key. It’s a lesson most of us could probably use on a daily basis. For myself, I need to take things like this far less personally. Whatever happened probably had nothing to do with me or my children. I need to separate myself and understand that this is not the first time, nor will it be the last, that a player leaves and has mean things to say afterward. Decisions should never be made in an emotional or angry moment, yet that’s when we as humans seem to make the most drastic of them. So despite the fact that this was not the way I had hoped to start my day, I am going to embrace it, make it a teaching moment, put it aside, pray for him and his continued endeavors and continue on with the season. We can only change what we can control. And this I cannot.

Be blessed, all! What is your personal teaching moment for today?