Behind the Bench

basketball

My husband coaches basketball games. I watch basketball games. Our children alternate between playing chase around the gym and fixating on their tablet, completely oblivious to the on-court battle gripping the rest of us by our throats. More often than not, I feel like a referee myself as I try to keep Numbers 1, 2, and 3 happy until they can run around on the court after the game. Let’s face it, they’re only here for the Skittles. A lot of times, I feel like this: IMG_0275

Even on our worst nights, when everyone is fussy and touchy and grouchy and hungry– always hungry– I feel compelled to fill our seats in the stands. I’m drawn to our usual seats with an undeniable magnetism to cheer on our girls and support my man. The view from back here, behind the bench so to speak, is oftentimes tumultuous at best.

We lost a big game tonight. That’s basketball speak for: A lot was riding on this game:

  • A district championship, for starters. Would have been the first one in 40 years in this town.
  • Pride. It’s girls basketball for heaven’s sake. It takes a VERY INTENTIONAL effort to fill the stands. We had a good turnout, and we really wanted to deliver for our fans and give them a reason to come back and keep supporting us.
  • Senior Night. Did I mention it was the last home game most of these senior girls will ever play? This will be one of their forever memories, unfortunately scarred by a loss.
  • And validation. My husband-coach has always preached that hard work pays off. He may not agree to it, but I was definitely needing to feel validated tonight. I needed to feel that all of his man hours and all of the girls’ sweat and practice in prep for this night had made a difference.

But it was just one of those nights. Great strides have been made this season. We’re still a playoff contender. There’s much to be proud of, but it doesn’t replace the sting of missing our goal by THIS much, by being THIS CLOSE.

It’s different, sitting back here behind the bench, supporting my man and his team. I’m not really a part of the team, and I obviously don’t actively contribute to the outcome of the game. (My overweight 5’3″ frame doesn’t quite fit the bill like it used to, at least not without the aid of a personal oxygen tank to jog alongside me.) 🙂 But make no mistake about it, I very much have A LOT invested in this team and their games.

Which is why I feel all the Big Feelings choked up in these match-ups. I lose my voice in cheerful glee when we run away with a win; I swallow back inappropriate swear words and possibly irrational anger when we face a loss.

Because I know all the behind-the-scenes prep work that stole my man’s time in the week prior to these games, and I want very badly to see that his dedication to this time away from our family was worth it. That’s my investment. He is watching film, scouting, statting games, printing individualized scouting reports, scouting, prepping motivational gimmicks to pump up team morale, networking with other coaches, scouting, 6:00 am practices, after school practices, attending junior high games to build rapport, scouting, and a host of other things (including scouting of course)– all of the tasks that my man is happy to do in the name of Thou Holy Almighty Basketball Season.

I am dallying in all things offspring-related: the school stuff, the medical stuff, the emotional stuff, the dinner stuff– for one EXTREMELY fickle eater and two who don’t eat enough to warrant actually cooking most weeknights (Yes, boys, we are having cereal again), the bedtime routine stuff. He is there. I am here. That is the investment I can offer.

I love this game. And oh my gosh, I love this man! And that’s ultimately the bottom line. Sometimes we coach’s wives will end up driving an hour and a half to an away game just to end up driving home without a win; sometimes despite our man’s and our team’s best efforts on Senior Night, we fall a little short. Sometimes we want our man’s hard work to pay off so badly it hurts. Because we love him that much. We know that he deserves to bask in the glory of being the best, earning the trophy, wearing the ring. We support him always, especially on nights like tonight. Eventually his time will come. Eventually he’ll be the best, earn the trophy, and wear the ring. He’ll remember that we were always in his corner, patiently waiting for what we knew would come. And it will come.

 

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10 Signs You’re a Coach’s Wife (& it’s June)

It’s that time of year again. It’s interviewing season for my husband, the coach. Tension is high; money is low. And while we know we’ll be perfectly settled in a new community by the end of the summer, the transition may make us lose our minds.

In the spirit of supporting my coach and trying new things: Here’s to…
The Summer of U-Haul! 
(Read in George Costanza’s voice)

10 signs you’re a coach’s wife (and it’s June):

10.

Packing in color-coded tubs. Boxes are for amateurs.

9.

You’re a more efficient packer than the military.

8.

As you organize your kids’ closets, you realize their old clothes represent a timeline of all the schools your husband has coached at. Orange for baby clothes, green for toddler, gold for big kid sizes…

7.

You have a moving sale without actually knowing where you’re moving to. Remember that time I advertised our “Moving sale” on Facebook and our phones were blowing up for days afterwards? You’ll find yourself explaining repeatedly, “Yes, I can assure you we’re moving. No, I don’t know where we’re going.” Coach: “You couldn’t have just said garage sale?”

6.

You stopped hanging curtains about 3 houses ago.

5.

In essence, all coaching families are nondenominational in their faith. Thinking about the big move has you wondering what kind of church you’ll try. After all, you’ve been whatever denomination was an option at the time. We’ve met the most devout SouthernBaptistMethodistChurchofChristCatholics out there.

Praise Jesus that He is constant when little else seems to be!

4.

Renting your home for years and years makes perfect sense. What is this job security you speak of?

3.

You have that one special tub of team shirts from every school you’ve been a part of. You know your husband is a veteran in the business when you have to start a second tub.

2.

When you come across old friends, you have to ask for a quick reminder of where they’re from. You’re a coach’s wife. You make friends easily, but keeping them straight is more difficult.

1.

You and your coach debate memories. Example–
Me: Remember when Brennan was little, and he used to lick your leg?
Coach: Oh yeah, what was that about? That was in Rockwall, wasn’t it?
Me: No, that must’ve been Breckenridge. He was a toddler.
Coach: No, I think it was in the Lubbock house.
And the conversation goes on and on like this until we’re both so confused we give up and agree that where the memory happened isn’t important. The fact that we can still laugh about it is.

Don’t offer me cheese. I’m not whining.

My man and I at our favorite sports venue in Texas- the Texas Rangers' Ballpark

My man and I at our favorite sports venue in Texas- the Texas Rangers’ Ballpark.

Well, this morning was the morning I’ve been dreading since summer started. Somehow, I let it sneak up on me. I’ve just been truckin along, soaking up every second possible with my family, kind of oblivious to the inevitable.

But this morning, summer came to a screeching halt: my husband, a coach, reported back to work bright and early. His summer officially ended yesterday; my family responsibilities just jumped up about 12 notches. Case in point: Brad went to work at about 8:00 this morning; I can expect to see his handsome face again around 10 or 10:15 tonight.

His work week carries about this same schedule during basketball season, which runs roughly October to February/March. Thanks to our district’s ____________ (insert your own adjective here) school board, instead of following this schedule during Coach’s “main” season, we now get to add July- October to the mix since all head coaches are required to assist in a second sport. Brad’s additional duty is volleyball, which is quite entertaining. He likens his trying to coach volleyball to a dog using a fork. Either way, it’s just fun to watch and little disturbing at the same time.

I wonder if other coaches’ wives feel a tinge of panic on  this day each year like I do. Surely I’m not the only one! But the feeling of shouldering the responsibility of the family in the day-to-day always catches my breath for just a bit before we get settled into the routine. It feels overwhelming sometimes. My strategy is to bathe this thing in prayer and thank the Almighty for all the times He is filling in the gaps for a hard-working but busy dad and my own shortcomings– the times when we overtly see Him at work and especially the times when He covers the bases for us and we’re none the wiser.

Coach and I sure had a great summer together, probably one of our best. These 8 weeks were my favorite of the year. Stress-free, lots of sunshine, time to sneak away together sans the 3 boys. We had a great run! I’ve got about 3 more weeks left of luxury before teachers report back to work. That’s plenty of time to love on my boys more and rock the baby a few more nights.

I’m feeling anxious, but I’m confident it’ll be okay.

JUNE- Like Christmas Come Early for Coaches’ Wives

JUNE- Like Christmas Come Early for Coaches' Wives

I don’t remember exactly when it started, but those words “see you in June” have become laughably dear to me.

I imagine they were first spoken in the very early dim of our kitchen as I fumbled around trying to get everything ready for another school day. Which kitchen in which house in which city, I’ve lost track of. We’re a coaching family and we lead somewhat migrant lives.

It translates into my husband telling me: “I know coaching is taking all of my time now, but June will be here before you know it. And when school is out, I’ll make up for all of that lost time and be an extra set of hands for the kids.”

I imagine it started with a nauseatingly early exchange, Coach having hit the hay following his away game just a few hours ago. I imagine he was charging through the kitchen as usual- making a beeline for the door. Gasp! It’s already 6:00?

An aside: if you’ll humor me while I jump up on my soapbox regarding gender equality and morning routines. I’m pretty jealous that men do that- wake up, throw on the top and pants, brush the teeth, and hop in the car in 12 minutes flat. Ladies, first, I need my beauty sleep! Second, heck, let’s be honest. I just don’t like the way any of my clothes fit after boy #3, so even though I was sufficiently organized last night and set out my outfit for the day, I’m going to change clothes approximately 3.5 more times before I’m willing to concede and leave my bathroom.

But I digress…

That morning, I must’ve given Brad a fairly helpless look as he started to jet by me. There I am surrounded with half-made lunches, backpacks and diaper bags splayed all over the table, too frequently glancing at the microwave to check the time. I’m sure I dropped the lame, loaded bomb: “You’re leaving already?”

He glanced at me with his lop-sided smirk. “See you in June.”

It was more of a question really.

To the other coaches’ wives: Happy Take-Back-Your-Husband Day!